On Wednesday, 22 February, while meeting with Sandra Kalniete and James Nicholson, members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, and discussing how to reform the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union (EU), members of the Saeima stressed the need to find a more equitable way of distributing EU’s agricultural funds starting in 2014.
“At all policy levels, Latvia will fight for its interests with regard to the next multiannual financial framework by stressing that the EU’s agricultural direct payments should be equal. Our demands are based on the founding principle of the European Union, that of ensuring fair competition among the member states,” pointed out Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee of the Saeima.
In 2011, both the Saeima and its European Affairs Committee adopted declarations calling for a solution regarding the unequal distribution of direct payments and cohesion funding. The Committee pointed out in its declaration that the cost of agricultural production in different EU member states is similar; 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.
The European Parliament (EP) is actively involved in negotiations on the EU budget for 2014–2020 by drafting statements on the policy principles and tools for implementing them. MEP Sandra Kalniete noted that almost all the members of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee are dissatisfied with the initial proposal of the European Commission and want to ensure more transparent distribution of funding for rural development, reduced costs of administrative procedures and a higher minimum threshold for direct payments.
It is in Latvia’s interests to achieve a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy which would increase the global competitiveness of the EU and concurrently ensure fair competition in the internal market. Kalniete said that the transition period for direct payments should be short – three years after 2014 – and afterwards the multiannual financial framework should envisage direct payments in the amount of 80% 120% of the EU average.
James Nicholson, who is a member of the European Parliament, Coordinator of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the European Parliament and member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, expressed support for Latvia’s desire to make Common Agricultural Policy more equitable. He predicted that the Irish presidency in the first half on the next year will be crucial in drafting the EU’s budget because then it will be time to make political agreements, otherwise, national governments and EU institutions will not have enough time to finalise the draft budget and get ready for its implementation.
MP Atis Lejiņš (Unity) noted that the funding allocated for the Baltic States is so insignificant in comparison to the total EU budget that we should seek opportunities for the EU to offer us a tailor-made solution. MP Raivis Blumfelds (All for Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK) recognised the significance of this discussion and indicated that the situation in rural areas and the availability of funding for rural development are also a matter of national security.
Photos from the meeting are available at:
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Saeima Press Service