Our “pilot light service” is designed to keep busy professionals up to date with relevant developments as they emerge, ready to “turn up the gas” when a more detailed appraisal is justified, while minimising the distraction from fee-earning.
For more information about our monitoring service, Brussels visits and brokering solutions, see below.
While current Defra ministers are exceptionally effective in the Council of Ministers *, the Council works on the basis of QMV (qualified majority voting) and the Commission can only be over-ruled by unanimity - a rare phenomenon in a council of 27 (soon to be 28) members.
UK ministers and officials strive to sustain alliances with other member states on particular issues, and with a few on the overall approach to CAP reform and the budget; but they will rarely be in a position to secure even a blocking minority in the council or the SCA (Special Committee on Agriculture), let alone a qualified majority for any British proposal.
So if changes, however minor, are to be secured, they need to be acceptable to the Commission; and to be promoted by MEPs on the relevant committees, with support from other Groups and MEPS from other member states.
Eurinco takes small groups of farmers to Brussels from time to time to discuss key proposals with Commission officials and MEPs (we recently took clients to meet key Commission officials on alternative approaches to 'greening pillar 1' and on the role of energy crops within the proposed EFAs).
We work closely with NFU and CLA, who we would usually suggest as the first port of call for farmers and landowners needing to address potential problems or to promote particular business opportunities in relation to legislation.
However, we also help agri-businesses and professional firms to secure a better understanding of the proposals (and the thinking behind them) through meetings with key officials; and we can address specific issues impacting your business or that of your clients which may not be high priorities for industry-wide bodies.
In some cases, responding to future policy changes may mean restructuring the business to safeguard future payments or to maintain operational freedom.
Structural changes to the business should only be considered when they do not damage operational efficiency. It would rarely be benficial, in our experience, to split the business into separate units (for instance to avoid the impact of capping) and there are in any case anti-avoidance provisions in the legislation.
However, other changes can often be made without damaging, maybe even to enhance, operational effectiveness. Have you considered, for instance, what level of labour costs can be set against your future payments?
Small adjustments to the business structure and to contract farming and other arrangements can sometimes help to avert undue losses to future payments which might result, for instance, from the definition of 'active farmer'. Have you considered the relationship between your farm payments and non-agricultural income to the same business, or the implcations if different parties now claim SPS and agri environment payments on the same land?
If business change or restrucuring is to be considered, it is important that this is undertaken in good time and for sound business reasons.
Eurinco, in conjunction with a specialist rural law firm, offers a joint professional approach with surveying, legal and agricultural expertise being combined to advise you on the best options for your situation.
Following the decisions of the European Council (8th February '13 - see News section), the vote in the European Parliament (13th March '13) and the Farm Council (19th March '13), the outlines of the final CAP reform are beginning to emerge from the fog.
Dacian Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.
In October 2011, the Commission published legislative proposals for the CAP after 2013. While many commentators are underwhelmed by the nature of the proposals, some aspects have real and potentially damaging implications for some UK farmers (see "Commission publish CAP reform proposals").
Eurinco aims to ensure that our clients do not discover something in 2014 which they might have done something about in 2012. See "CAP reform" section of this site for updates on the discussions as they occur.
Responding to future policy developments in Brussels might involve minor changes to the business structure, or briefing MEPs and Commission officials, suggesting alternative ways of meeting the same objectives (see 'brokering solutions' below).
But the first step must be to assess the likely changes and their impact on your particular business or those of your clients.
Eurinco can help farmers and land managers respond to these and other policy challenges and derive new sources of income from meeting them.
Eurinco offers you and your clients the benefit long-standing expertise in anticipating and assessing policy changes at a European level, a good working relationship with Commission officials and members of the European Parliament, and a deep understanding of the way farming and estate management operate in UK (see ' About us').
A summary of the main proposals as published on 12th October is available on application (email email@example.com). These briefings are regularly updated to take account of more recent negotiations in the Council of Farm Ministers and developments in the European Parliament.
The original Commission proposals have now been amended by the European Council decisions of 8th February '13, and by the amendments passed in the Agriculture and Rural Development committee of the European Parliament. All these changes, and the decisions on the long-term EU budget (MFF, or multi-annual financial framework) are still subject to the agreement of the full Parliament, meeting in plenary session.
The discussion about the future CAP is not only crucial for farmers but for all European citizens, since it deals with the challenge of food security, Paolo De Castro said as negotiations start on a new EU farm policy for 2014-2020.
The "greening element" in the European Commission proposal for CAP reform, particularly the setting aside of 7% of farmed land for ecological purposes, could lead to more bureaucracy, which would be an additional burden for EU farmers. The proposed measures would "keep production down instead of promoting it".
Read more: www.europarl.europa.eu