The future common agricultural policy (CAP) puts forward a modernised and simplified approach to enable EU agriculture to meet the ever-evolving economic, societal and environmental needs of a globalised world. In its proposal, the European Commission lays out a vision of a more targeted, more flexible and more effective CAP. Vital to achieving this is a new way of working.
Future CAP objectives
Nine common EU objectives set the basis for the policy, reflecting high EU-level ambition for the CAP as a whole. From preserving biodiversity to ensuring fair income, supporting generational renewal to climate change action, the objectives cover a wide range of issues that aim to tackle emerging environmental, social and economic challenges.
In order to achieve these objectives, the European Commission is presenting EU Member States with number of tools, requirements for how they should be used, and indicators to measure progress.
The policy shifts the emphasis from compliance and rules towards results and performance. The one-size-fits-all approach is replaced by a more flexible system, with greater freedom for EU countries to decide how best to meet the common objectives while, at the same time, responding to the specific needs of their farmers and rural communities. This is where the CAP Strategic plans come in.
CAP Strategic plans
The CAP Strategic Plans will deliver genuine subsidiarity to Member States to better reflect their particular circumstances and to ensure a more resilient agricultural sector in Europe. As a first step, Member States produce a thorough assessment of their needs based on a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of their territory and agri-food sector. This is conducted in close consultation competent national authorities and other important stakeholders.
As part of a new structured dialogue, the Commission will provide Member States with tailor-made recommendations for preparing their CAP strategic plans, including setting specific targets that take into account CAP objectives and other EU-level legislation such as the European Green Deal. An analysis of the future CAP proposals confirms its compatibility with the EU Green Deal and associated Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
Equipped with a robust understanding of their national or regional level needs, as well as strategic insight from the European Commission, the Member State develops an intervention strategy. This second step sees Member States select certain CAP tools and set quantifiable targets to steer implementation across the budgeting period. CAP strategic plans will cover all EU-funded CAP tools available under direct payments, market-specific support and rural development. For the first time, their implementation will be subject to a strategic approach as only the most effective and complementary combination of tools will be considered.
Member States must then send their CAP Strategic Plans to the European Commission for formal approval. This approval will be based on consistency, coherence, effective contribution to the CAP objectives and identified needs, as well as other potential outcomes such as impact on the proper functioning of the internal market, for instance.
Finally, once approved and implemented, Member States will have to produce an annual performance report based on their plans. These reports will help the European Commission to monitor policy implementation and assess progress towards targets set for the overall budgeting period.
The new CAP will encourage and support greater use of modern technologies and innovations. Throughout the implementation of the CAP, farm advisory systems and agricultural knowledge and innovation systems at local level will help farmers to better understand and meet EU rules by drawing on a range of economic and environmental data to deliver up-to-date technological and scientific information.
If progress is estimated to be too slow or insufficient, Member States will be required by the Commission to carry out an analysis of shortcomings and an action plan to remedy to this lack of progress. If not implemented, or if no progress is made, the Commission could suspend payments to the member state.
Europe needs a resilient, sustainable and competitive agricultural sector to ensure production of high-quality, safe and affordable food for its citizens and a strong socioeconomic fabric in rural areas. The future CAP proposals propose a real shift for the policy, focusing on evidence, adaptation to local needs and conditions, while keeping a strong commonality at European level. The CAP strategic plans will be crucial to enable this.
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