Commissioner Ciolos particularly defended the greening measures that have been criticised in the country as hampering production at a time when demand is growing. “I keep hearing that these measures cost money and have an impact on EU’s production capacity. But what are the costs of doing nothing? For the UK alone, the costs of soil erosion over 10 years are of more than Euros0.5bn – not to mention the impact this has on the resources of fresh water. We are losing 275 hectares of soil per day in the EU because of soil sealing. (...)
“This is the vicious circle we have to break! This is the circle that we can turn virtuous, through the proposed CAP measures. We have chosen measures that are easy to apply and easy to control, measures that will not have an impact on prices and production. It is a long-term investment in a sustainable competitiveness,” he said at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham.
Commissioner Ciolos added that the goal of linking 30% of subsidies to greening practices, such as crop diversification or maintaining permanent pasture, was to ensure that all EU farmers made efforts to preserve the environment, but that producers that were already doing so would not be penalised.
“I know many farmers in UK are already meeting some of these requirements. We do not want you to do less and we are not going to disregard your efforts. The key point with these agricultural practices, linked with direct payments, is to have a real impact at European level. And we can have it only if we ask every single farmer in the EU to employ these practices. This is why this cannot be voluntary. But again, we are not going to penalise the champions,” Ciolos said.
The agriculture commissioner also reassured UK farmers on other measures in the CAP reform, including the capping of subsidies. “The CAP will not take money from the big farms to give them to the small ones. Moreover, money resulting from capping will not be transferred to other member states of the EU, but stay in the same country. The idea is to limit the large, unconditional payments or to have better targeted payments towards, for example, innovation and other measures, including competitiveness,” he said.