The Commissioner said he has heard many distorted misinterpretations of his proposals on greening.
He stressed that has been designed as a tool for ensuring the sector’s economic sustainability and maintaining Europe’s long-term production capacity - it is essential for the farming sector’s brand image, enabling it to be recognised for its contribution.
He will not take a dogmatic stance on this topic, and is aware from discussions with farmers that for some the opportunities for crop diversification are more limited. These aspects will be taken into account. he had indicated potential for flexible arrangements very early in the negotiations.
But he will put his foot down on one thing: he is firmly opposed to the idea of a pick-and-mix menu, as favoured by some in the Parliament. He said farmers would be the first to suffer from this kind of à la carte approach, which would cause chaos, creating distortions between European farmers.
To avoid this problem, apart from the three simple measures proposed by the Commission, he will focus on equivalence. For instance, there may be agri-environmental measures which are even more beneficial for the environment and which are already supported under the second pillar.
Member States may propose measures to replace one or more of the three greening measures. The alternative agri-environmental measures will be assessed to ensure that their impact is at least equivalent to that of the three initial measures. If this is the case, the implementing farm holdings will be entitled to receive funds for both ‘greening’ under the first pillar and agri-environmental action under the second pillar.
He stressed that the 7% of Ecological Focused Areas is not set-aside.
Firstly, the Commission will take into account areas which were not eligible to date but which nonetheless form part of the ecological infrastructure of a holding, and which it is important to protect and enhance.
There is still work to be done to acknowledge environment-friendly production in response to the 7% Ecological Focus Area measure, by which he means assessing the role of LEAF and other such systems.