With the forecast for spending on CAP Direct Payments and Market measures in 2014 higher than the provisional ceiling for 2014 agreed by EU heads of government*, the European Commission has tabled a proposal for "Financial Discipline" to ensure that spending remains within those budget limits.
The concept, established in 2003 but never triggered until now, requires the Commission to make a proposal before the end of March introducing a linear cut in CAP Direct Payments in order to ensure that the ceiling for the so-called 1st Pillar for the forthcoming year is respected. The Commission proposal, which includes a threshold to exempt the first €5 000 of farmers' Direct Payments from any reduction, foresees a reduction of just under 5% (4.98%) in all Direct Payments – or an overall reduction of €1 471.4 million. This proposal relates to applications for Direct Payments in 2013, to be submitted by farmers in May 2013, and usually paid out in December 2013 (from the 2014 budget), but will not apply for Bulgaria, Romania (and Croatia) because the system of CAP Direct Payments is still being phased-in.
This move for 2014 follows the accord among EU heads of government on the MFF* to reduce the budget by roughly €800 million from the Commission proposal and to include the creation of a new market crisis reserve (worth €425 million) within the CAP budget, rather than from a separate reserve as originally proposed by the Commission. Under the Regulation, the proposal needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council by 30 June 2013. If not, the Commission is empowered to set the adjustment rate. The Commission will update its forecasts for market and direct payment spending for 2014 in the autumn, as usual, and, if necessary, propose an adjustment to the rate of financial discipline, which would then need to be adopted by the Council by December 1.
[* NB: The February 7/8 Conclusions of the European Council on the 2014-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) is still subject to the consent of the European Parliament. Nevertheless, the Commission has to take a realistic figure on which to base its calculations. It has therefore taken the budget sub-ceiling for the 1st Pillar in the February 8 Council Conclusions as the best working hypothesis. If need be, this figure can be updated when the MFF is definitively adopted.]