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CAP simplification process to reduce the burden for EU farmers

May 2, 2024 | EU Institutions

Author: Blanca Casares (AEIDL)

On 15 March 2024 the European Commission (EC) proposed targeted review of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to support EU farmers. The proposals, related to conditionality and CAP Strategic Plans, sought to alleviate the regulatory burden on EU farmers, and provide them with greater flexibility for complying with certain environmental conditionalities.

In particular, the Commission put forward a proposal aimed at refining specific aspects of agricultural conditionality. This includes a targeted review encompassing: (i) GAEC 8 on non-productive features, (ii) GAEC 7 on crop rotation and (iii) GAEC 6 on soil cover during sensitive periods. In addition to these specific changes, the Commission proposed that Member States may exempt certain crops, soil types or farming systems from complying with requirements on tillage, soil cover, and crop rotation/diversification (respectively GAECS 5, 6, 7).

In cases of severe adverse weather conditions impeding farmers’ ability to adhere to GAEC requirements, Member States may implement temporary derogations.

To enhance the adaptability of EU countries’ CAP Strategic Plans to evolving circumstances, the Commission suggested doubling the yearly allowance for plan amendments. Moreover, the EC proposed exempting small farms spanning less than 10 hectares from controls and penalties associated with conditionality compliance.

In complement to the proposal, the EC ran between 7 March and 8 April 2024 farmers’ consultation for CAP simplification with the aim to:

  • Understand the burden placed on farmers by procedures and rules linked to financial support under the common agricultural policy (CAP), as well as other EU rules for food and agriculture in the EU;
  • Help in identifying sources of concern and complexity in the way these policies and schemes are applied in the EU countries; and
  • Help in identifying areas where improvements could be made.

The results of the consultation were published on 12 April.

On 26 March, the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Brussels gave the green light to the proposal for a legislative amendment presented just 10 days before by the Commission to simplify the CAP. The Council agreed, by qualified majority, and forwarded the text of the proposal for the reform of the CAP to the European Parliament.

Under urgent procedure, on 24 April the Parliament approved a review of the CAP Strategic Plans Regulation and the CAP Horizontal Regulationwith 425 votes in favour, 130 against, and 33 abstentions. MEPs adopted the draft law with technical modifications proposed by the Council and endorsed by the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture on 15 April 2024. 

Finally, the Council is expected to adopt the proposed amendments to the CAP on 13 May 2024. 

More information:

Meeting of the Common Agricultural Policy Committee on the 5 February 2024, here.
Proposal for Regulation COM(2024)139 published on the 15 March 2024, here.
Technical modifications by Council to the Commission proposal published on 25 March 2024, here.