Sustainability of European agriculture
119. The three main features of the Commission's
proposalsdecoupling, cross-compliance and modulationcan
be expected to make a significant contribution to the sustainability
of European agriculture. The measures envisaged could on balance
be expected to reduce the pressure of intensification of agriculture
on the rural environment, to force farmers to have more respect
for EU environmental, food safety and animal welfare regulations
and provide funding for new measures to foster these desirable
objectives. The degree of switch in importance from market support
to these measures to improve the quality and safety of food and
food production will however be seriously hampered by the relatively
small amount of money likely to be transferred from Pillar 1 to
Pillar 2. On the basis of the Commission's January 2003 modification
of the mid-term review proposals, the total annual amount of money
to be transferred to Pillar 2 in this way will be only 1.48
billion for EU25 by 2013.
120. It is essential that the cross-compliance
measures and the closely allied Farm Advisory system recommended
in the mid-term review proposals are sufficiently effective to
ensure that possible intensification stimulated by the reduction
of support to production is discouraged (paragraph 90).
121. The switching of funds from support of
production to structural, environmental and other Pillar 2 considerations
proposed by the Commission amounts to only a possible total of
1.5 billion for the EU15 by the end of a seven year period.
We consider that this is inadequate to have any noticeable effect.
We therefore recommend thatsubject to careful monitoring
and assessment of value for moneythe modulation percentage
should be considerably more than the maximum of 19 per cent proposed
under the Commission's "degressive modulation" proposal
of 21 January 2003 and that the time allotted to reach the full
figure should be considerably less than what has now effectively
become ten years. We deplore the delay in the application of this
measure until 2007, as recommended in the January modification
of the Commission's proposals (paragraph 91).
122. A revised CAP should be less complicated,
less bureaucratic and less centralised. It should offer farmers
more choice about how to run their businesses. In this respect
these proposals fall far short of the Commission's commendable
intentions to deliver such reforms (paragraph 92).
123. If environmental measures are to be effective
it is important that, rather than being of an essentially prescriptive
nature, the new policies envisaged within the mid-term review
proposals should be designed to encourage and reward good land
management. We recommend that the type of subsidised "best
practice" measures being developed in the UK and in some
other EU Member States should be adopted at the general European
level (paragraph 93).
124. Early agreement and the application of
the Commission's cross-compliance proposals is if anything more
urgent in the new Member States than in the EU15. This is because
there are many habitats and species still surviving in eastern
Europe which are now rare in the west. Failure to apply effective
cross-compliance measures could result in these being endangered
by the intensification of agriculture in these regions (paragraph
Recommendation to the House
- This Report is made for debate.