The EU Council finally reached an agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) after marathon talks last weekend and it did not make for good reading for those who wanted to see an increase or real terms freeze in CAP spending reports Agra Europe.
The CAP budget agreed for 2014-2020 will be nearly €16 billion below what the European Commission wanted at €362.79bn − €277.85bn for Pillar One and €84.94bn for Pillar Two (P2). This is provided it is passed in a straight Yes/No vote by the European Parliament – the first time this has happened – as mandated by the Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force midway through the current 2007-2013 MFF period.
Under the Council agreement, rural development spending will be €7.03bn less than proposed, but the blow is to be softened for many member states, who are to get a ‘special’ P2 envelope as well as their share of the remaining P2 pot.
What this represents is the first time a CAP budget has been reduced in size but also an unparalleled degree of flexibility for member states over how they shuffle the financial resources dealt to them. However, no member state is going to escape the fact that restrictions on agricultural subsidies and state spending will be in place for the next seven years at least as the CAP enters an age of austerity.