New EU farm budget faces delay
Rome, June 19, 2012
The adoption of a new European Union farm budget may slip back by a year and that would mean postponing a possible reduction to the 55-billion-euro ($69 billion) annual farm subsidy plan, Italy's farm minister Mario Catania said.
The euro zone debt crisis has led to calls to cut spending in the farm subsidy bill. Though no decision has yet been made, some countries already back a small percentage cut.
The risk of a delay stems from the fact that the bloc's overall seven-year spending package is not likely to be completed until January or February, Catania said on Tuesday.
"The time window is very small," for an agreement on the common agricultural policy (CAP), he told Reuters.
Catania said the best case scenario was an agreement on the CAP between February and May. "May is the extreme deadline. Even a modest delay would mean the new regime could not be implemented in 2014," he said.
EU countries are still negotiating an overall funding programme for 2014-2020. That agreement must come before one on farm spending, which makes up about 40 percent of the total budget. A final decision on that package was supposed to be made in December, but can be postponed to March.
The CAP budget was also supposed to be finalised by the end of the year.
If the CAP is not agreed by May, there will not be enough time to approve all the technical aspects of a new spending programme, and that would require an extension of the current regime for another year, Catania said.
"It's technically fairly complicated" to extend the current seven-year spending programme, especially the rural development regime, he said. - Reuters