The European Commission’s suggestion that EU member states co-finance part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the biggest single consumer of the bloc’s budget, has met with steady support in Germany and exasperation in France. EURACTIV France reports.
Brexit is causing headaches far beyond the UK’s borders. The EU executive’s proposal to fill the hole left in the EU’s finances after Britain’s departure has provoked ire in France.
“The European Commission is clearly making a mistake with this proposal! It is a way to limit Germany’s overall contribution to the budget but it makes absolutely no sense,” a French diplomatic source told EURACTIV.
Brexit will leave a €10bn hole in the EU’s €150bn annual budget. But at a time when demands on EU coffers are rising, particularly in terms of defence and security, no member state seems willing to up their contribution to cover the shortfall.
With this in mind, the Commission’s reflection paper on the future of Europe focuses on ways to cut current levels of spending.
But beyond this questionable logic, one more element has come up against French resistance: the White Paper suggests asking member states to co-finance the CAP, which currently consumes around 40% of the EU budget.
France plans to table a counter-proposal this summer, combining flexibility measures with direct payments to farmers. While the Commission’s proposal has yet to provoke an official reaction from Paris, the agricultural sector is preparing for battle across Europe.
Farmers fear their subsidies will be cut drastically if responsibility is handed down to national governments.
“It looks like the analysis of the CAP was carried out by a British tabloid,” said Yves Mandre from FarmEurope, whose members are bewildered by the proposal.
For the organisation, the fact that 80% of CAP funds go to 20% of farms that account for 90% of all agricultural production is logical. Mandre denounced the analysis as “biased” and said it had been prepared by people with little connection to the issues at stake.
The reflection paper was not produced by the Commission’s directorate-general for agriculture (DG AGRI) but by experts at DG BUDGET, currently within the portfolio of German Commissioner Günther Oettinger.
Experts fear that a system of CAP co-financing would lead to a renationalisation of agriculture policy and create big discrepancies in competitiveness between the EU’s richer and poorer member states.
“The thing is…