French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll met with his German and Spanish counterparts Ilse Aigner and Miguel Arias Cañete in early October. In a statement after the meetings, the ministers supported European Commission plans to freeze the CAP budget for 2014-2020 at 2013 levels.
This would mean that the budget would be reduced in real terms. M Le Foll and Mr Cañete described this as the ‘’absolute minimum’’ they would accept.
The UK government, supported by Sweden and the Netherlands continues to call for cuts in direct aids. Both statements accepted the case for a “proportionate and gradual’’ convergence of aid levels between member states, ie. a switch of support towards the newer member states.
The French/Spanish statement also called for flexibility for member states that are moving away from an historic-based payment to avoid destabilising agriculture in certain regions, and the need for a sufficient level of aid coupled to production in the first pillar of the CAP.
A new paper of the future of the EU budget is due at the end of October and EU heads of state will seek to reach agreement a special summit in Brussels on November 22-23.