Common Agricultural Policy Reform: ECOVAST engages in the European Commission debates from 2010
ECOVAST’s Secretary General, Pam Moore, Vice President Phil Turner and Past President Michael Dower, spoke in 2010 at debates in Brussels hosted by the Directorate General, Agriculture and Rural Development.
On 11 March 2010, Pam Moore spoke at the Rural Development Advisory Committee raising the importance of historic buildings, industrial sites and other built features in the farmed and forested landscape. Funding for cultural heritage should be more widely considered and there was a further opportunity to influence the CAP Reform at a conference in December 2010 on the topic of ‘public goods’
There was an enlarged meeting of the Advisory Committee on 3 June at which Michael Dower and Phil Turner called for a strategy for rural development - a Common Rural Development Policy. They urged that funding from many sources (Rural Development, Structural Funds etc) should be drawn together. For this it was suggested that there should be a deeper role for LEADER in delivery at regional and sub-regional level.
We are pleased that the European European Commission’s published Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Regulatory proposals for the period 2014 – 2020, that were released on 12 October 2011, include co-funding and a role for LEADER in regional development, covering towns as well as rural areas and coastal places with Local Development Strategies. Community-Led Local Development is also proposed.
Public goods - biodiversity, landscape etc - also include cultural landscape (The European Union was urged to sign up to the European Landscape Convention of the Council of Europe). On 10 December 2010, on behalf of PREPARE, Phil Turner attended the debate on the output of the DG AGRI Rural Development Thematic Working Group 3 on Public Goods, when Steve Trow was at the top table and spoke on behalf of Europa Nostra on cultural landscapes and built heritage.
In the context of cultural landscape a special plea was made for built heritage, as set out in the paper "Europe's Living Landscapes" produced by Steve Trow in conjunction with Europa Nostra, RED, ECOVAST and others.
As a climax to the public debate, Commissioner Ciolos convened a major two-day Conference in Brussels on 19 and 20 July 2010, attended by over 600 people representing a wide range of bodies. ECOVAST was represented by Past President Michael Dower, who - in the final plenary session - made a direct plea for the landscape to be treated as a major policy issue, and for small towns (the subject of ECOVAST’s ASSET programme) to be given full recognition as focal points of social, cultural and economic life in rural areas.
The ECOVAST paper submitted to the Commission, and the document “Europe’s Living Landscapes”, have been posted on the discussion group set up by ECOVAST on the ARC2020 Initiative site:
ECOVAST comments on Proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy October 2011
At the ECOVAST annual meeting in Vienna on 23 October, the following comments were made:
Prof Dr Ralf Bokermann, Germany, noted the proposed upper limits for direct payments to farmers, but was pleased that there may be concessions for those with a high number of employees, including co-operative farm enterprises.
He was also pleased that small farms could receive a fixed amount of 5,000 euro without the administrative burden of complex form-filling.
The proposed ‘greening’ was discussed. The role of LEADER and the integrated local development strategies for each LAG (LEADER Action Group) was seen as an opportunity for ECOVAST members to influence rural development.
NGOs, such as ECOVAST and others who have taken part in stakeholder events, the Rural Development Advisory Committee of the Commission (DG AGRI) and the ARC2020 meetings, should be proud of their work and have no reason to be discouraged, said Prof Bokermann.
Gabor Rajnai, Hungary, who works closely with LEADER groups, agreed.
He noted the funding proposed of 400 Billion Euro over 7 years, of which Rural Development represented 100 Billion Euro. Within the second pillar there would be no separate ‘axes’
In member states, much would depend on nation agreement / contract, strategy and budgets. Within those, the LEADER LAGs could take the lead, through their integrated local development strategies and budgets.
Phil Turner attended the ARC2020 conference on 4 November 2010 hosted by the Committee of the Regions in Brussels to reach consensus on a “Communication of Civil Society to the EU on the Future of Agriculture and Rural Policies”.
ECOVAST UK responded to a government consultation in March 2012, including the following comments:
The greening proposal sits well with the UK pioneering reputation for agri-environment benefits.
To assist their competitiveness, organic farms should be considered for exemption from greening, because they make a positive contibution to the environment through their ethos, avoiding chemical pollution.
Increasing the role of producer and inter branch organisations across all commodity sectors can be positive in the supply chain, particularly in local markets that will become increasingly critical in the face of increased costs of energy (peak oil).
ECOVAST accepts the removal of the Axes, and supports the six strategic priorities.
The focus on innovation and technology will assist in meeting the increasing population’s need for food, in finding alternatives to depleting fossil fuel resources, and in enhanced competitveness.
The measure for organic farming is welcomed.
ECOVAST is strongly in favour of the Rural Development proposals and would like to see a shift of funding to RD over future years and programmes. The Common Strategic Framework and co-funding is particularly welcomed.
ECOVAST strongly supports the LEADER role. A greater percentage than 5% would be welcome.
We believe that LEADER LAGs should cover ALL the rural areas of England. There should be an integrated startegy for the sub regional area of each LAG. This would accord with DG REGIO proposals to introduce a LEADER approach in regional development and the links between urban and rural areas.
We are pleased to see the support covering built and landscape heritage features, particularly through LEADER.
Expanding the role of the Farm Advisory service is welcome.
As well as advice on environmental issues such as biodiversity and water resource management, the expertise should be available to farmers to address energy resources (related to climate change) and to the conservation of heritage buildings and landscape features.
The proposed Common Strategic Framework and co-funding means that DGs of the European Commission will be working more closely together.
Government ministries in all Member States should address the importance of inter-departmental working.
ECOVAST has attended Ministry stakeholder meetings, and would be willing to be further involved in promoting inter-departmental approaches that relate rural development to regional development. >