The political compromise reached on June 25 envisages that every Member State submits a proposal for a CAP Strategic Plan by 1 January 2022. The Commission will then have 6 months to decide on the plan, save the time for necessary revisions.
While some technical elements of the legal framework remain to be completed through delegated and implementing acts, the agreement shifts attention towards preparation, approval and implementation of the CAP Strategic Plans.
Preparatory work for CAP Strategic Plans now intensifies, and the Commission continues to support Member States in this work at different levels. Informal bilateral contacts with Member States are important and greatly encouraged by DG AGRI. These contacts will help improve the quality and strategic orientation of the plans.
The political agreement foresees that the assessment of the strategic plans will be done on the basis of legally binding texts, while assessing at the same time "the coherence and contribution" of the plans to the Green Deal targets. This means that the Commission will have the possibility to ask a State to correct its strategic plan if it is not sufficiently "coherent" with the Green Deal?
- The relevance of the Green Deal targets stems from the specific CAP objectives. These objectives aim at agriculture that is sustainable from an economic, environmental and social point of view. The Green Deal articulates this challenge and sets out common EU ambitions which are reflected in the few selected targets for areas that need to be tackled to truly deliver on sustainability. The CAP strategic plans will play a key role in ensuring that all Member States deliver on these EU objectives together.
- Concretely, the Commission will ask a Member State to review its draft plan when the proposed measures do not deliver on the strategic challenges. Those strategic challenges are identified in the so-called ‘needs assessment’ of each Member State and were also articulated in the recommendations the Commission has issued to each Member State in December 2020.
- The recommendations will serve as reference points for the Commission in its assessment but Commission will also take into account other elements, including evidence supplied by Member States, and will base the assessment on the criteria and directions set out in the CAP Strategic Plans Regulation.
- If all CAP plans tackle the underlying causes of the problems at national level and use the CAP resources wisely, we should be in a good position to arrive at a sufficient level of contribution to the Green Deal, in a spirit of responsibility and solidarity.
The Commission and the Member States are communicating regularly about the Strategic Plans. What are the main questions Member States are asking?
- The range of questions raised by Member States is very wide. All aspects of the CAP Strategic Plan are addressed, including many technical issues. CAP Strategic Plans concern a substantial amount of financial support, which needs to be programmed and administered correctly. The contribution of the CAP Strategic Plans to the environmental challenges are an important aspect of discussions that are taking place.
Eco-schemes are a new feature of the CAP, and some fear that their definition and ambition will vary excessively between countries. How will the Commission ensure that the eco-schemes defined by the countries fulfill their role?
- Eco-schemes will indeed play a very important role in the new CAP and the freedom that has been granted to Member States to design these schemes aims to make these schemes effective. The one-size fits all approach that currently exists with the ‘greening’ measures was not a success. Differences between eco-schemes should thus not be viewed as a danger, but rather as an opportunity to address the key challenges that each Member State or region faces. At the same time, we must make sure eco-schemes are effective. In fact, the Commission reviews eco-schemes on the basis of experience with similar schemes that currently exist as part of rural development programming.
Has the Commission already received drafts of national strategic plans from some states? If so, which ones?
- The Commission has received smaller or bigger parts of strategic plans of most Member States and is aware that certain Member States are consulting stakeholders and the wider public on their draft plans.
Last time, you mentioned "geographical hubs", in charge of helping each Member States to develop their Strategic Plans. How many people are in each "hub"? Will those "geo hubs" also be in charge to evaluate and approve the Strategic Plans?
- The ‘geographical hubs’ that were created within DG AGRI of the European Commission are country teams that gather Member State knowledge and experience with different parts of the common agricultural policy. Colleagues from other Directorates-General of the European Commission also participate in the work. The groups works under the leadership and with support of DG AGRI hierarchy, and will also support the work on assessment of the plans.
A "plenary" meeting on the strategic plans between the 27 and the Commission took place last December, have there been others since then?
- A high-level meeting to discuss the next steps regarding the preparation of the CAP Strategic Plans is taking place on 20 July. This meeting marks a shift in focus from negotiating the CAP reform to preparing the future strategic plans.
The States must submit their plans by the end of the year. What are the next deadlines between now and then?
- The Council and the Parliament must finalise the basic legal acts. Translations are required and the legal texts of these translations must be carefully verified. Also, the formal approval of the legal text must the take place. We understand this will occur in October or November.
- In parallel, the Commission is working very hard to prepare the implementing and delegated acts, the secondary legislation. Council and European Parliament have mandated the Commission to provide for detailed rules in some – limited – areas. The Commission will cooperate intensively with Member States and MEPs to prepare the ground, so that the necessary implementing and delegated rules can also be put in place as soon as possible after the basic legislation has entered into force.