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The delegations of Agriculture Ministries of the V4 and Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia discussed issues of renewable sources of energy, and Common Agricultural Policy of the EU

Press release

Ahead of the biggest Czech agricultural exhibition “Země živitelka” this year České Budějovice hosted one of the most prestigious agricultural events: a meeting of the Agricultural Ministers of the Visegrád Four Group countries under the auspices of the Czech Presidency, enlarged by the representatives of Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. The topics of the meeting concerned, for example, the issue of national complementary payments for the year 2012, use of biomass for energy purposes, or Common Agricultural Policy. The meeting outcomes concerning the issue of national complementary payments are summarised in a declaration in which the participating countries present to the European Commission their common position on the principles of equal treatment of older and newer Member States and fair competition on the single market of the European Union, or what problems and reserves they see in these areas. In the Declaration, the Ministers request that the European Commission still re-evaluates the proposals to limit possibilities for compensation of direct payments with regard to the modulation of payments in the year 2012 that, in their opinion, further undermine competitiveness of new Member States.

According to the Health Check of the CAP of 2009 the direct payments in old Member States of the EU in 2012 will be decreased by 10% and the amounts will be transferred to rural development. On the contrary, in the New Member States direct payments are increasing and will reach 90% in 2012. According to the opinion of the European Commission the direct payments paid in both new and old Member States will be balanced. New Member States shall reduce the national complementary direct payments but will not receive the 10% for rural development. European Commission wants to break the principle which has been used until now and thus take from the new Member States the possibility of complementing direct payments through top-ups. Instead, the Commission wants to introduce a ceiling of EUR 500 per farm. Possibility of support to farmers in new MSs would therefore be significantly reduced. It would present another decrease of the competitiveness of the new member States through a bureaucratic measure form the outside.

The discussion on renewable energy resources showed that the delegations of the Visegrád Four Group Countries and their colleagues from Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia agree on the importance of biomass in the energy industry. However, they stress the local character without which the use of biomass in practice loses its environmental as well as economic benefits, while they support a greater use of agricultural waste during the production of renewable energy resources. The delegations are fully aware of the growing importance of renewable resources and their importance not only for climate protection but also as a possible source of another financial revenue for farmers with regard to diversification of their activities and the fact resulting from it that the projects aimed at renewable sources of energy implemented in a sensible way contribute to a further development of the European agriculture as well as rural environment. In the whole European Union, a discussion is going on about optimal share of production for food and non-food use. Delegations of Visegrád Four Group and Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia agreed that provision of a sufficient volume of quality food products and food safety stay the primary task of agriculture while raw materials for renewable energy resources take the second position. The delegations demanded the Polish Presidency of the EU Council to put the question of renewable energy resources on the agenda of the EU Council meeting.

Last but not least, the Ministers discussed the issue of the future of Common Agricultural Policy that belongs to priorities of the Czech Republic. In addition, the meeting opened the issue of mutual cooperation and coordination of common policy in the context of expected legislative proposals. Respective legislative proposals are still not officially submitted, however, it is already possible to anticipate versions of the solutions of a number of issues. The delegations agreed that the future Common Agricultural Policy has to be fair, market-oriented, effective, and simple, without any unnecessary bureaucratic or administrative burden falling on farmers or state administration.



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