Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-06-22-Speech-3-095-000"

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"Mr President, Mr Dess, honourable Members, this report has come at a pivotal time, just as the Commission is drafting detailed legislative proposals that it plans to present to Parliament and the Council in October. Limiting direct payments to active farmers is another point on which your expectations and my vision of the future common agricultural policy coincide. Here again, we want to establish a European definition that can also allow for the specific conditions in Member States. I have also paid close attention to your proposals on market measures. Strengthening management capacity and the negotiating power of producers and producer organisations, transparent pricing and other risk-management measures are all subjects that I am committed to examining in detail as part of the impact assessment. I intend to develop specific legislative proposals on these points. I agree with your comments on improving and enhancing rural development measures. I also agree that we need measures that will allow us to respond more effectively to challenges associated with global warming, biodiversity and the sustainable management of natural resources. The second pillar of the future common agricultural policy will have to address all these challenges and will also have to consider how technical knowledge can be used to build a future that combines competitiveness and environmental concerns. I can tell you that the entire Commission – the full College of Commissioners, including President Barroso – is in favour of a strong second pillar in the future common agricultural policy. I was interested to read your proposals regarding young farmers. Rural development policy must provide a wide range of support measures that will meet their needs. I would also like to consider what could be done under the first pillar of the common agricultural policy for young farmers. In future, I would like Member States to be able to define thematic sub-programmes: packages of measures which specifically target young farmers and recognise that they are a priority group in the Member State. I am thinking of measures for setting up, vocational training, training services, investing in modernisation and restructuring farms. As you emphasise in your report, our policy will need adequate funding if it is to address future challenges. We are currently waiting for the Commission communication on the next multiannual financial framework, which will be published by the end of June. We will build on that communication when we present our impact assessment and legislative proposals in the autumn, as I said. Thank you once again for this report. I am happy to answer any questions. I hope that this will be a very productive discussion. I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Dess, for his work over past weeks and months. I would also like to thank the members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for their hard work and the fruitful discussions that we have had since I began the task of preparing the reform of the common agricultural policy. Many elements in the report are in line with the Commission’s vision as set out in the communication on reforming the common agricultural policy, which was presented at the end of 2010 and was intended to spark debate. I am thinking in particular of the question of food security, which is one of agriculture’s underlying aims. I am also thinking of the importance of preserving the two pillars of the common agricultural policy, as Mr Dess has just said, whilst also recognising the need to make the policy greener and to focus more on integrating the sound management of natural resources. I am also referring to a fairer distribution of common agricultural policy money between European farmers and to the need for a budget that is able to address food and regional issues, but also the management of natural resources in the European Union. I also note that you have included a proposal for higher ceilings for direct payments. At this stage, let me stress the considerable contribution that many large farms make to rural employment. Criteria such as employment will therefore be taken into account when we define the ceilings for agricultural income aid. Adding a green component to the first pillar in conjunction with a stronger rural development policy is another key objective that will help to tackle climate change and environmental issues, but will also contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 strategy. I am pleased to see that the report stresses the importance of closer links between direct payments and conservation of natural resources. I want to establish an effective, pan-European instrument that achieves the objective of simplifying the direct payment system. I am a strong advocate of decoupling direct payments, which has proved beneficial in helping farmers to adapt better to market conditions. However, I share the view expressed in your report, namely that we need to be practical and realistic. In certain situations, specific segments and sectors that are economically, ecologically and socially sensitive, I feel that optional coupled aid should also be available. Direct payments will continue to play an important role in maintaining regional vitality. This is a particular challenge in areas with significant natural limitations. That is why the Commission communication stressed the value of providing income aid in addition to the second pillar payments made to areas with natural constraints, which will continue to be awarded. We will examine the concerns expressed in your report, which suggests that this component should not be included under the first pillar. In the communication on the future of the common agricultural policy, I suggested creating a specific support scheme for small farmers, which would help them by minimising the administrative red tape associated with direct aid. Under the second pillar, small farmers could also receive significant support for restructuring or to allow them to contribute more at a territorial level, but also in economic terms, by becoming more profitable and more competitive."@en1

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