European agri co-ops oppose proposed cuts to EU rural development funding

Copa and Cogeca say the proposed cuts are “totally unacceptable”

Copa and Cogeca, the organisations representing European farmers and agri co-ops have raised concerns over the proposed EU budget for 2121-2027.

The two apex bodies warned that the financing level tabled by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, is below the current level for the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Copa and Cogeca, which represent 22 million farmers and their families along with 22,000 agri co-ops, say the proposal is “totally unacceptable”.

They argue that the proposed budget does not provide sufficient support to farmers to address the challenges they are facing and will not help them contribute to the objectives outlined in the European Green Deal. Copa and Cogeca believe that rural development lacks an adequate level of support, particularly in the context of the additional reduction in the EU co-financing rates for rural development support – known as Pillar II of CAP. Farmers also receive direct payments, which form the first pillar of CAP.

Under Mr Michel’s proposal, the funding allocated to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) is trimmed by €7.5bn (£6.28bn), while direct payments to farmers are to increase by €2.5bn (£2.09bn).

Copa and Cogeca secretary general Pekka Pesonen said: “Member states cannot disregard the current hardships of the farming communities and rural exodus across the EU. They need to commit sufficient resources to deliver on the priorities of the Union.

“We have said this many times: we are at a critical moment for the survival of EU’s family farming model. A reduced budget will be perceived as a clear message from the EU to our farmers. A message that it doesn’t care enough about agriculture, our rural areas and about those who produce the food we eat.”

In protest against the move, Copa and Cogeca signed an open letter send by the Rural Coalition and Coalition of European Agriregions, which call on policymakers to review their approach.

EU leaders met in Brussels on 20-21 February to discuss the proposed budget for 2121-2027. Reaching and agreements is particularly difficult due to the funding gap in the EU budget left by the UK’s departure. Meeting the EU’s ambitious plans to fight climate change while subsidising farmers and helping poorer regions might require placing heavier burdens on richer member states.

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