Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning, it's great to see so many of you here in Brussels today. The ENRD is a very important forum, because it maintains necessary linkages and dialogues between different rural areas and different rural development programmes.
And I am also pleased that we have representatives from Rural Development Managing Authorities and MS Paying Agencies here today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.
I welcome the opportunity to engage with you at this important juncture in the evolution of our EU rural development policy. In the coming months, your networking and information-sharing capacity will be called upon in a major way.
A little over 12 months ago, I spoke at the ENRD's joint workshop with CEJA on "Generational Renewal through Rural Development".
I mentioned then that we were at the start of a journey to begin designing the future CAP. Now, 12 months later, we have come a long way!
In late 2017, the Commission published a Communication on the Future of EU Food and Farming. This document is a roadmap for the Commission's preferred direction of travel for the next budgeting period of the CAP.
My view is that the current broad architecture of the CAP works quite well, so what I am proposing will be an "evolution rather than a revolution".
When it comes to ensuring that the EU budget is spent correctly, the CAP generally performs well – with a very low error rate.
The 2013 reform reinforced the targeting of our interventions, giving MS much greater freedom to define schemes in the first pillar. However, the other side of the coin was a more complex policy framework where exemptions seem to be the rule.
Complex and sometimes overlapping policy frameworks lead to complexity in implementation, with issues such as double funding, and all of this trickles down and causes administrative burden on farmers and other beneficiaries.
It will not surprise you to learn that last year's public consultation on the future CAP highlighted simplification as one of the key issues at stake.
This of course echoes the conclusions of the Cork 2.0 Conference on the future of EU Rural Development which favoured a more effective and simplified implementation of the CAP.
At the same time, it was also clear from both assessments of the CAP and the public consultation that the policy could and should deliver more and better results on behalf of EU citizens.
In particular, successive Eurobarometer surveys have shown that the issue of protecting the environment and tackling climate change is an increasingly important priority for our people.
This is emphasised in the data emerging from the most recent survey, the fieldwork for which was completed in December, which showed a 6 point increase in the proportion of respondents which identified this topic as one of the main priorities for the CAP.
To meet this challenge, we propose to radically overhaul the delivery model of the CAP. A "one-size-fits-all" approach to the CAP is not appropriate in a Union with significant differences in farm structures, production systems, and climatic conditions.
What we do share are values and objectives: those of a viable farm sector delivering food security for our citizens; of sustainable management of our natural resources, climate action, and care for the environment; and of the need to ensure prosperity for our rural citizens.
With the new delivery model, we are rethinking the division of responsibilities between Member States and the Commission.
At the level of the EU, we will define what the CAP should achieve in terms of objectives. We will then leave it to national authorities to define how they intend to contribute to these objectives based on a territorial and sectorial needs assessment.
This is subsidiarity in action, in line with the Commission's Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and "Doing Less More Efficiently," chaired by FVP Timmermans.
Member States will have responsibility for design and implementation, while target-setting and overall objectives will be maintained at EU level.
Each MS will produce a so-called "CAP Strategic Plan" with detailed information for interventions funded under both EAGF and EAFRD.
Control and consistency will be assured through Commission approval of these plans. This is a way of not only safeguarding but even strengthening the C in the Common Agricultural Policy.
Some people have asked if we are imposing the current system of rural development on the first pillar. The answer is no.
Firstly, whereas the current second pillar is based on compliance, the future delivery model will be based on performance.
We currently have a list of detailed measures and sub-measures in the rural development regulation linked to eligibility and implementation rules.
These set out how Member States develop and define their operations and schemes.
As some of you have experienced, it sometimes causes issues, for instance when you have new innovative ideas that go beyond what was imagined at the time of drafting the regulation. You also know that these issues have often created difficulties in the programme approval phase.
In future, we intend to do away with these restrictions. One way to illustrate this is by means of the investment measure. Instead of having a variety of investment measures and sub measures that define eligible beneficiaries and types of cost, we will simply have a broad intervention called "investments".
And we will then leave it to Member States to fill it with content and purpose, to establish eligibility criteria and support rates suitable to their purpose and their delivery towards the pre-defined EU objectives.
When we are talking about strategic planning, there will be some resemblance to what we do under Rural Development.
After all, we are doing strategic programming. But there are key differences and a large potential for simplification in our proposals.
We currently have 6 priorities, 18 focus areas, contributing to 3 CAP objectives and 11 Thematic ESIF objectives. It sounds unnecessarily complicated and it is my impression that this is the case.
It is therefore the intention to have a limited number of CAP specific objectives which reflect Treaty objectives but also Commission priorities; our commitment to the Sustainable Development goals, and the implementation of the COP 21 agreement.
For each specific objective, we will establish a number of result indicators for target setting and for monitoring annual implementations.
The development of this performance framework is a work in progress and an area where we are keen to work with Member States to ensure that we end up with a system that can provide us with assurance for the EU budget; a credible tracking and monitoring of CAP performance; and clear evidence of the added value the CAP provides for public money.
The role of networks will be very important in moving towards a more results-based system, and that's where you come in.
In a policy where fewer operational matters are steered by EU legislation, networking will play an increasingly important role in policy design and implementation.
Networking across borders and pillars is a positive sum game; it is crucial for ensuring mutual learning and knowledge exchange and it allows us to develop solutions and schemes together. We already have great experience with this from the two networks we have today – the ENRD and the EIP-AGRI network - and I believe this is something we can build on in the future.
In fact, today is an example of the role networks can play in the future CAP.
One of the fundamental principles for innovation and change management is that you generally tend to get better results if you involve the end-users early on in the design and development process. This is also the case for the design of the new delivery model. We are here today - MS, Commission and rural representatives – to develop ideas and solutions together.
We want to raise awareness and share our thinking on the future of the CAP. I am sure you have many questions about the new Delivery Model; we are here to listen to your concerns and ideas.
We want to hear your thoughts on how we can ensure simpler plans and a more effective planning process. DG AGRI is well represented here today with many colleagues from different areas. Take it as an indication that we want to be sure we capture every idea coming from this forum.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to the future policy, in particular the CAP Strategic Plans, there are three S's to keep in mind: Single, Strategic and Streamlined.
We want a single CAP plan for interventions from both pillars. So to be clear: we are not talking about a two layered approach with an overarching CAP strategy and an underlying RD programme. That would hardly be a simplification.
We want the CAP plan to be strategic and result-oriented; developed around a number of EU objectives and based on a territorial and sectorial needs assessment. We want to see targets and we want to be able to measure progress towards these targets on an annual basis.
We want the CAP plans to be streamlined. The current approach with RD programmes running to thousands of pages is familiar to everyone in this room.
We will need descriptions of what you intend to do in order to approve the programmes, but the level of detailed descriptions about eligible beneficiaries and principles for selection criteria will be a thing of the past.
We want CAP plans to be accessible to our farmers and rural stakeholders and no one can expect them to read hundreds and hundreds of pages to find out what the CAP is doing in their country or region.
I believe we have a strong foundation for a better, smarter, simpler and environmentally friendly CAP. And I will need your help to deliver it. Thank you.