25 August 2021
The European Commission presented on the 2nd of May 2018 its Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) draft for the 2021-2027 period. This provisional EU budget should be subject to tumultuous debates, mainly due to the consequent increase of the budget (€1 279 billion in commitment appropriations, against €963 billion for 2014-2020); however, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will, in any case, be weakened.
CAP budget on the decline
The overall budget allocated to the CAP under the 2014-2020 MFF was €408 billion; for the 2021-2027 period, this amount will drop to €365 billion, i.e. a 12% decrease after taking inflation into account.
This budget line is astonishing, given that the CAP has long been presented as the EU’s main policy. In fact, this is the first time that funding for the CFP has decreased from one MFF to the next. Moreover, and this is symbolic, it could even receive less funding than the Cohesion Policy (€373 billion over the same period).
Redefining the Union’s priorities: towards greater flexibility
The European Commission justifies the budgetary reduction planned for the CAP by two main reasons: the Brexit issue which, according to its own calculation, would generate a €12 billion euros funding shortfall; but also by the redefinition of the Union’s strategic priorities, which are now turned towards security and defence, as well as migration.
Nevertheless, the Commission argues that this reduction would be offset by a better distribution of funds, as well as greater autonomy for the Member States in its management. Furthermore, they would benefit from a more flexible allocation of funds according to their priorities.
Difficult negotiations are still required
As a response to such reforms, most EU Member States (20, including France) have expressed their disapproval with the cuts made to the future CAP budget. Because of the major challenges (economy, climate, public health) that this policy raises, French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert is calling for a CAP budget that would enable the EU Member States to meet their ambitions.
France, for example, has good reasons to feel concerned since it is both the first beneficiary of the CAP and its 2nd largest contributor after Germany. In fact, some Member States have announced that they are ready to reassess their contributions to the CAP if the Commission does not change its position. Since the latter wants an agreement to be reached before the 2019 European elections, future developments on the subject must be carefully followed.