Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
Mairead McGuinness MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament today welcomed a positive vote by the Parliament's Agriculture Committee rejecting cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget and urging that the budget be at least maintained at current levels for the post 2020 period.
MEPs crucially also backed an amendment tabled by McGuinness stating that an increase in the CAP budget may be required to address climate and weather-related problems.
“This is a strong signal from the Agriculture Committee that we reject cuts to the budget," McGuinness said in Brussels this morning.
The report calls for the CAP budget to be maintained in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) at least at the level of the 2014-2020 budget for the EU-27 in real terms and strongly opposes Commissioner Oettinger's budget plans which would entail substantial cuts to the CAP.
"I am very pleased with today's vote which received broad support from Members of the Agriculture committee."
MEP McGuinness, a Member of the Agriculture Committee, further underlined that she was particularly happy that the committee acknowledged her concerns that weather related problems experienced this year across the EU and tackling the climate change challenge such reinforce the need to look at an increase in the CAP.
“The Committee supported my amendment that an increase in the CAP budget may be required to address climate and weather-related problems.
"In terms of direct payments, the text stresses the importance of maintaining the existing financial allocation for these payments and acknowledges that any cut will have a direct impact on farmers income."
The Midlands North West MEP added that today's vote is very important for the upcoming discussions and negotiations on CAP reform.
"Ahead of the reform of the CAP, it is essential to have an agreement between EU institutions on the next MFF in order to know what money is available to finance the policy. We must ensure sufficient budget is available for direct payments and also protect pillar two funding which encompasses rural development programmes, which is particularity under threat."
The committee also criticised the severe cuts envisaged for the second pillar of the CAP.
The report will now be forwarded to the Parliament's lead committee, the Budget committee, to incorporate into their report which sets out Parliament's position on the next MFF. The MFF sets expenditure levels for EU policies such as CAP.