On Friday, 2 December, the European Affairs Committee of the Saeima adopted two declarations urging the institutions of the European Union (EU) to find a solution regarding unequal distribution of EU’s direct payments to farmers and Cohesion Policy funding.
“It is the right time to protect Latvia’s interests concerning the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework. Active debate is going on with regard to the multiannual budget for 2014-2020, and we find the original proposals unacceptable,” stressed Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the Committee.
“It is not permissible to maintain substantial differences in the amount of direct payments received in different EU member states. We are paying close attention to discussions concerning the future of Cohesion Policy funding as well. Latvia has proved its capacity to effectively absorb this funding; therefore, we object to the introduction of a cap on Cohesion funding. This measure would reduce the amount of funding available for our country, which would contradict the basic goal of the European Union,” Kalniņa-Lukaševica pointed out.
In their Declaration on an Equitable Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union after 2013, MPs appealed for improving the system of direct payment distribution that treats Latvian farmers unfairly and unequally.
Latvian MPs stressed that the Proposal of the European Commission (EC) submitted in the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework implies maintaining substantial differences in the amounts of direct payments received by farmers in different EU member states after 2013 and that it will not guarantee fair and equal competition.
The European Affairs Committee expressed the opinion that the EC’s Proposal is unacceptable for Latvia because it will not ensure achievement of the basic objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy – income stability and basic public benefits for society. The Proposal also disregards the basic principle stated in the Resolution of the European Parliament of 8 July 2010 that Common Agricultural Policy payments should be distributed fairly among farmers in all the EU member states.
The Committee emphasised the need to establish a direct payment system of the Common Agricultural Policy that ensures truly equitable competition for all farmers in the European Union. The Committee also pointed out that objective criteria should be set for defining a fair system of payment distribution.
The Committee underlined that the cost of agricultural production in different EU member states is similar, and therefore it is impossible to tolerate further substantial differences in the amounts of direct payments allocated for farmers in different EU member states also after 2013. Thus members of the Committee suggested amending the Proposal of the European Commission in such a way as to avoid substantial differences between the highest and lowest level of direct payments received by farmers of different EU member states.
The Committee also stressed that it is necessary to provide adequate funding for both direct payments and rural development in order to promote sustainable agricultural and rural development in the entire European Union.
In the Declaration on the Cohesion Policy of the European Union after 2013, MPs referred to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which provides that the Union shall aim at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions.
Taking into account the goal of the Cohesion Policy to reduce increasing economic and social disparities among the EU member states, it is impossible to accept the limits proposed by the EC on the absorption of Cohesion Policy funding, namely, a flat absorption ceiling for all EU member states in the amount of 2.5% of GDP.
MPs expressed the view that it is not acceptable to reduce Cohesion Policy funding within the next Multiannual Financial Framework of the European Union for the EU member states that have proved the effectiveness of investments and the ability to effectively absorb Cohesion Policy funding in the current and previous programming periods.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee; Atis Lejiņš, Deputy Chairman of the Committee; and Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, Chairman of the Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee, will visit Brussels at the beginning of next week in order to defend Latvia’s position during meetings with high EU officials.
Saeima Press Service