A possible reshaping of the CAP (exploratory opinion at the request of the European Commission)

EESC opinion: A possible reshaping of the CAP (exploratory opinion at the request of the European Commission)


  • The EESC believes that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an essential EU policy, which must provide European citizens and the agriculture sector with a truly common policy and which has delivered on its key objectives set out in the Treaty of Rome. While the request for an exploratory opinion speaks of reshaping the CAP, the EESC places emphasis on upgrading the CAP in the interests of stakeholders, adopting a cautious and organic approach. Upgrading the CAP must be approached in a positive way and the CAP budget must be adequate to address existing and new demands, regarding to the agricultural economy as well as social and environmental criteria.
  • A reshaped CAP must meet the needs of the new challenges facing Europe, including the EU commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate change commitments under the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), bilateral trade deals and market volatility.
  • The CAP must strongly support the European Model of Agriculture, with its traditional family farms, farming cooperatives and companies, as well as redress the major income inequality both between rural and urban areas and within agriculture with the involvement of agricultural sectoral organisations.
  • In providing a sustainable supply of high-quality safe food for over 500 million EU citizens, and exports worth EUR 131 bn, representing 7.5% of the EU’s total exports, the CAP budget, which amounts to 38% of total EU budget, must strike a balance, providing value for money. Future funding must be sufficient to address the additional financial demands resulting from Brexit, pressure on farm incomes and the increased demand for public goods.
  • The EESC supports the retention of the two-pillar model of the CAP. Direct payments in Pillar 1 must support farm incomes, market management measures and increased delivery of public goods. Rural Development payments in Pillar 2 should focus on economic, environmental and social programmes based on the objectives set down in Cork 2.0 to support vulnerable regions and sectors, and should ensure a targeted approach to the delivery of public goods.
  • The valuable contribution that agriculture makes to the environment is underestimated. The carbon sinks in grassland, forestry, peatlands and hedgerows need to be accounted for, protected and enhanced under both the CAP Pillar 1and Pillar 2 payments.
  • Strong targeted programmes which focus on young farmers, especially women, and retirement must be implemented to address the important issue of generational renewal. In addition, programmes aimed at enhancing the role of women in general in agriculture should be adopted.
  • Simplification should be a key part of a reshaped CAP with the use of modern technology to simplify and reduce the ever increasing bureaucratic burden facing farmers. Changes should be made to the audit/inspection process encompassing a close out model, the yellow card system, reduced cross compliance requirements and greater tolerances, all focused on simplification and improved delivery of payments.
  • A reshaped CAP should maintain the principle of community preference and territorially balanced food sovereignty with EU food for EU citizens. The potential for agriculture must be highlighted in any bilateral or multilateral trade deals without sacrificing the sector to obtain benefits in other areas. All EU food imports must – while respecting the principle of conformity – meet full EU standards on sanitary, phytosanitary (SPS), labour and environmental conditions.
  • The farmer's position in the food chain must be strengthened. The positive recommendations from the EU Agricultural Markets Task Force should be adopted and implemented. Further, even stronger, sector and region oriented promotion of cooperation between producers and existing cooperatives and producer organisations (POs), especially small ones, is vital. In particular, specific emphasis should be put on those sectors and regions where cooperation is low.
  • Both a strong Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 are essential for a new, reshaped CAP with flexible Rural Development Programmes available across all Member States, including Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) focused on vulnerable regions and sectors.
  • The level of direct aid paid to farmers in the individual EU Member States needs to be further harmonised, in order to create a level playing field for farmers in all Member States and to ensure the balanced development of rural areas throughout the EU.



Hearing on "A possible reshaping of the CAP" - 19.4.2017 - Presentations
Hearing on "A possible reshaping of the CAP" - 19.4.2017 - Presentations
Hearing on "A possible reshaping of the CAP" - 19.4.2017 - Presentations
Audition du 19.4.2017 - Présentation de M. Haniotis, DG AGRI, Commission européen (seulement en anglais)
Présentation de M. Mathijs, Fondation RISE (seulement en anglais)
Présentation de M. Madre, Farm Europe (seulement en anglais)