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28-05-2024 10:59

Joint Statement of the Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries of MED9 under the Cyprus Presidency

Τhe representations of Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain convened in Brussels on March 25 and April 29, 2024. Acknowledging the profound concerns of our farmers and recognising the significant challenges they currently face, we have engaged in discussions aimed at a more ambitious and result-oriented approach for supporting farmers and agriculture in the EU.

To rebuild trust with our farmers, we must provide appropriate and timely solutions for strengthening their position in the value chain, simplify procedures and responsibilities under the CAP and improve the competitiveness of EU agriculture. The Common Agricultural Policy must continue to evolve and remain a priority and a significant part of EU policies in the future. The adoption of European Council conclusions for agriculture, on March and April 2024, provides guidance for further measures and actions within and beyond the CAP.

In this context, we welcome the approval of the Commission’s proposal on amending Regulations (EU) 2021/2115 and (EU) 2021/2116 on CAP Strategic Plans and its intention to proceed with further steps for a fairer renumeration and treatment of farmers in the food supply chain. It is important to pursue further simplification that addresses additional issues of farmers’ concerns that include also particularities encountered in the Mediterranean region. These solutions must ensure fair incomes for farmers, so they can continue to supply the Union with food at affordable prices and fulfill their obligations under the CAP legislation.

Our deliberations have led to the following conclusions:

We encourage the Commission to proceed with further targeted adjustments of the CAP Strategic plans towards measures that accommodate efficient use of financial support to farmers and absorption of all available funds under the CAP. The specific difficulties encountered by small farmers should be recognised within this context to avoid disproportionate burden.

We recognise the need for additional actions to further reduce the administrative burden and improve the resilience of the agricultural sector. We emphasise that these actions should duly consider the specificities and challenges of Mediterranean agriculture, including challenges due to extreme environmental conditions (e.g. heat, floods, diseases and pests, water scarcity and water resilience).

On trade, priority should be given to the protection of sensitive EU products and Geographical Indications from future trade agreements.

We highlight the need to further enhance and promote crisis measures and increase Member State flexibility to support sectors in need. Therefore, additional measures such as a mechanism of “ad hoc” support under the CAP Strategic Plans (CSP) using at least 2% of the existing national CSP envelope and increased flexibility on using the agricultural reserve should be within the available tools for crisis management. In addition, we welcome the adopted extension of the temporary framework on State aid as an additional tool for farmer’s support. We do also see the need to promote the use of “decommitments”, capitalising the cancellation of budgetary commitments that have not been followed by payments.

We also encourage the Commission to proceed with the necessary measures in order to accommodate efficient adaptation of tools within and beyond the CAP and to ensure sustainability and resilience for the agricultural sector and food production systems in the European Union.

We call for further discussions within the Council to address farmers’ needs, improve the resilience and competitiveness of EU agriculture, and effectively contribute to EU environmental goals.