Coldiretti, the National Association of Independent Farmers in Italy, has brought out a guide entitled “Where is the CAP going. The evolution of the CAP between the Green Deal and the COVID-19 crisis” (Original: “Dove sta andando la PAC. L’evoluzione della PAC tra il Green Deal e l’emergenza Covid-19”). The 108-page document describes the CAP reform process and brings together the main innovations with the aim of making them available to a wider audience of readers: farms, agri-food and agro-forestry, national and local policy makers and other stakeholders.

The long-term budget of the European Union (Multiannual Financial Framework – MFF), which includes the review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), is determined through a decision-making process undertaken by the European institutions (Commission, Parliament and Council). A number of circumstances have slowed the process down and placed a number of obstacles its way:

  • Brexit, on grounds of the previous role of the UK as net contributor to the budget;
  • The 2018 European elections, which saw Eurosceptic elements make significant gains;
  • The accession of the new Commission at the end of 2019, with the resulting period of institutional stasis;
  • The Covid-19 pandemic, which necessitated a rethink of the structure, size and the very competences of the MFF, to make it consistent with the management of exceptional measures (in particular the Next Generation EU economic recovery programme) aimed at tackling the economic crisis unleashed by the pandemic;
  • Lastly, Hungary and Poland’s veto of the last phase of the MFF approval process, motivated by the conditions imposed by the EU with regard to civil rights, which were withdrawn following lengthy negotiations and unblocked after the German presidency pushed for a compromise agreement.

These issues pushed the entry into effect of the “new” CAP back by 2 years until 1 January 2023.

However, the fact that the current CAP will remain in place for the next two years, extended and managed by transitional regulations, is good news, because it allows time and space for the Member States to prepare to manage the important changes envisaged by the future CAP.

The main changes:

The “greening” of European policies through the Green Deal

The Green Deal in agriculture must be taken seriously, with the need to transform greening from being a merely cosmetic justification for maintaining the old system of subsidies into a completely new approach that will lead to a new system of well-designed incentives properly integrated into the organic scheme envisaged by the new CAP.

The Green Deal objectives to be achieved by 2030 for the agricultural sector are:

  • A 50% reduction in the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and aquaculture;
  • 25% of agricultural land used for organic farming; and
  • Greater land availability for biodiversity, including agricultural land with high-diversity landscape features;
  • A 50% reduction both in the use of chemical pesticides and high-risk pesticides;
  • A minimum 50% reduction in nutrient loss;
  • Comprehensive fast broadband internet coverage in rural areas.

The New Delivery Model

The New Delivery Model is a core element of the new CAP and is the most important innovation and the main driver of modernisation and simplification. It aims to facilitate the transition from an approach focused on compliance to a more results-oriented focus, with a consequent rebalancing of responsibilities between the EU and Member States.

The EU defines a set of basic parameters (objectives, intervention type and minimum requirements), while the Member States choose the most appropriate solutions to fit their specific contexts within a common general framework. This will enable the Member States to maximise their contribution to the Union’s objectives in line with the ambitions set out by the Commission. Member States will be required to have a national strategy plan in place that includes both Pillar I (direct payments and sectoral plans) and Pillar II (rural development) interventions, which demonstrate the synergies and complementarities between the different planned interventions. The Commission will be tasked with assessing and approving the national plans on the basis of the strategic priorities defined at Community level and the climate change targets to which the individual Member States have committed.

Under the New Delivery Model, the Commission’s role is that of assessor of the degree of completeness and efficacy of the strategic plans in relation to the national targets, with a lower level of prerogatives with respect to the choices made by Member States.

To find out more, visit the website of Coldiretti.