However, MEPs were split on other key aspects of Capoulas Santos’ report, such as his support for the Commission’s ‘greening’ approach of three EU-wide mandatory measures. UK Liberal George Lyon and Irish Conservative Mairead McGuinness called instead for a ‘menu’ of environmental options – echoing demands made by a majority of member states in Council – so that farmers can tailor the measures to the specificities of their local areas. Speaking to journalists, Capoulas Santos said his ‘greening’ approach was less bureaucratic than the Commission’s as it excluded the smallest farmers and made it more flexible for others. Farmers who carry out certified environmental schemes would also be able to qualify for the ‘greening’ support, he said. Some MEPs, such as Jim Nicholson (ECR, UK) and Iratxe Garcia Perez (S&D, Spain), rejected the rapporteur’s support for capping the highest direct payments, saying it discouraged competitiveness. A number of Green MEPs attacked the rapporteur’s plans for reintroducing retirement support – €35,000 for farmers over 65 transferring their farm to another farmer – saying the focus should be on encouraging people to stay in the sector.
Meanwhile, a number of MEPs spoke in favour of plans by French Conservative MEP Michel Dantin to maintain planting rights in the wine sector “until at least 2030” and sugar quotas until the 2019-2020 marketing year. Commission plans foresee phase-out dates of September 2015 and January 2016, respectively. However, Socialist MEPs Ulrike Rodust (Germany) and Wojciech Michal Olejniczak (Poland) said sugar quotas must be ended, as taxpayers no longer supported the system.
Moves by Italian Conservative rapporteur Giovanni La Via to simplify checks on farmers received support from a number of MEPs. La Via said farmers should not have to reproduce aid applications if their situation has not changed, while a warning system should be introduced so that they are not penalised for minor irregularities. MEPs have until 9 July (for direct aid, CAP controls) and 10 July (rural development, market tools) to table amendments. A vote is expected in the autumn but the timing will depend largely on the outcome of the talks on the long-term budget.