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EU approves measures to reduce administrative burdens in rural areas to address sector unrest


Mar 26, 2024

Amidst the background noise of a rural protest outside the European institutions in Brussels, the EU Agriculture Ministers have endorsed new proposals from the European Commission aimed at reducing bureaucratic burdens in the agricultural sector and relaxing environmental conditions for accessing direct aid from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These proposals will also exempt small farmers from sanctions and controls. The Ministers have urged the European Commission to continue seeking solutions to appease the anger of farmers.

Following approval from Member States, the proposals put forth by the European Commission on March 15 must now be validated by the European Parliament in an emergency procedure. The EU aims for the new rules to come into force by late spring, with the possibility of retroactive application to January 1 of this year. The swift response from the EU institutions reflects a commitment to address the current situation faced by European farmers.

Recent protests in the agricultural sector have caused concern across European capitals and in Brussels, where there are fears that the frustration of farmers could be exploited by the extreme right in the upcoming European elections. The Commission’s proposals aim to provide flexibility in the CAP, particularly in environmental matters. While some skepticism has been expressed, the Commission emphasizes that the derogations are temporary and limited to maintain environmental and climate ambitions within the CAP.

One key aspect of the proposals is the exemption of small farms from certain environmental conditionality requirements. This will benefit a significant portion of CAP beneficiaries, particularly those cultivating less than ten hectares of land. The revisions also offer more flexibility to member states in enforcing environmental conditions on farmers, aiming to balance environmental protection with reducing bureaucratic burdens.

In addition to addressing environmental concerns, the Commission has been tasked with studying other issues such as unfair business practices, peatland measures, budget redistribution, and aid distribution. The overall goal is to respond to the current challenges faced by farmers while maintaining environmental and climate ambitions within the CAP. These efforts seek to provide concrete solutions to farmers and address their demands for increased income and flexibility in agricultural practices.

By editor

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