This week, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced a roadmap to begin designing the CAP of the future.
The President and I informed the Agricultural Outlook Conference that the Commission will publish a Communication on the future of the CAP by the end of 2017. And this process will begin with a wide-ranging public consultation in the early new year.
This important development follows up on the Commission Work Programme commitment to "modernise and simplify" the CAP so that it makes a stronger contribution to the Commission's job creation targets and sustainable development goals.
President Juncker has always been a strong supporter of farmers and the CAP, and in his keynote address he explained why, stating that "until 1964, Europe was not self-sufficient in food production. It may surprise the current generation, but we must not forget that it wasn't very long ago, in the middle of the last century, that grave food shortages were common currency for millions of European citizens".
He expressed gratitude to our farming women and men for guaranteeing food security for Europe's citizens, explaining that "without you, our style and quality of life would not be what it is today and I thank you and salute you for it".
He reminded the large audience that in his State of the Union address, he called for "a better Europe: a Europe that protects; a Europe that preserves the European way of life; a Europe that takes responsibility".
It was heartening to hear that the President shares my belief that the CAP makes a central contribution to these objectives.
He noted that "the CAP protects 22 million farmers and 44 million jobs which depend on agriculture – twice the number of employees in the European auto and aviation sectors combined;
"The CAP preserves the European way of life by contributing to job creation, growth and investment as well as dynamic rural communities in every EU Member State;
"And it reflects a Europe that takes responsibility, as proven by the more than €1 Billion in additional aid to support agri-food sectors in difficulty".
And now is the time to look to the future. The President has on several occasions referenced the position of farmers in the food chain, and he emphasised that we are analysing the recommendations of the Agrimarkets Taskforce to see what lessons we can draw to help us support the agri-food sector.
He said that "as a fundamental and indispensable European policy, the CAP must be simplified to ease the administrative burden on farmers, and modernised to face the challenges of the 21st century, including our sustainable development objectives".
I fully agree with this approach, and I elaborated on what it means for the future CAP in my own address to the Conference.
The public consultation for this crucially important EU debate will be launched at the start of next year, and I urge anyone with an interest to make their voice heard.
President Jean-Claude Juncker's opening speech at the Outlook Conference
With president Jean-Claude Juncker at the Outlook Conference