STRASBOURG, FRANCE — Members of the European Parliament voted March 13 on hundreds of amendments and four sets of legislation for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2014-20.

The vote in Strasbourg, France was the first time the European Parliament has had a direct say in shaping the farming policy under powers it acquired under the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

“This is the first time that we have had full co-decision on reforms to the CAP, and the Parliament has backed a negotiating position, respecting the tight timetable. Once the Council has also defined its negotiating position, we will be in a position to start the last phase of the reform negotiations,” said E.U. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolo?. “These aim in particular at making the CAP fairer, more sustainable, more reactive in market management terms, and more open to the diversity of our rural areas, as sought by the wider E.U. public within the framework of the public debate on the future CAP launched by the European Commission three years ago.” 

Now, the E.U. Council, Parliament and Commission must negotiate the deal. Ciolo? hopes a final agreement could be reached by June.

During the votes, the Parliament:
• Approved, by a vote of 375 to 277, the extension of quotas and other common market rules;
• Approved, by a margin of 427 to 224, direct payments rules for farmers, or Pillar 1.
• Approved by a vote of 556 to 95 for rules on Pillar 2, the rural development program that involves shared financing with national governments;
• Approved, by a margin of 472 to 172, rules for financing, management and monitoring.

Ciolo?  said the Parliament supported the main principles of the Commission proposals, notably on the capping of payments, the greening of 30% of direct payments and a rural development policy more adapted to the diversity of local specificities. 

“I welcome the fact that on certain subjects, such as transparency and double funding, the Plenary vote has defined a Parliament position closer to the Commission’s proposals,” he said. “Once the Council has also defined its negotiating position, we can start the trilogue meetings with the Commission-Parliament-Council, with a view to reach a political agreement before the summer which I hope will be balanced and ambitious. This should be the case in particular for the issue of equity in the distribution of CAP support, for real convergence between member states, regions and farmers. The problem of attracting young farmers to enter the sector must be addressed by a response at European level. Moreover I welcome the fact that the Parliament has supported the Commission’s proposals in this direction. We must also work on the definition of agricultural practices linked to greening, notably the concept of equivalence so that this tool can be not only consistent, but also simple, efficient and transparent. For this, we need to introduce a credible sanction mechanism.”