The Commission’s proposals

On 1 June 2018, the European Commission presented legislative proposals on the common agricultural policy (CAP) for the period 2021-27. Due to ongoing negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, the provisional start date of the proposed CAP reform has been pushed back to 1 January 2023.

Following the allocation of CAP funding for 2021-27 from the EU’s long-term budget, a transitional regulation has been agreed for the years 2021 and 2022. The transitional regulation will extend most of the CAP rules that were in place during the 2014-20 period, while also including new elements to encompass stronger green ambitions and ensure a smooth transition to the future CAP framework, as set out in the Commission's proposals.

The Commission's proposals aim to foster a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that can contribute significantly to the European Green Deal, especially with regard to the farm to fork strategy and biodiversity strategy. In particular, the proposals focus on:

  • securing a fair deal and a stable economic future for farmers;
  • setting higher ambitions for environmental and climate action;
  • safeguarding agriculture’s position at the heart of Europe’s society.

In order to achieve these broad goals, the Commission has set out nine specific objectives:

  • Ensure a fair income for farmers

  • Increase competitiveness

  • Rebalance the power in the food chain

  • Climate change action

  • Environmental care

  • Preserve landscapes and biodiversity

  • Support generational renewal

  • Foster vibrant rural areas

  • Protect food and health quality

Related information

Legislative proposals, factsheets and impact assessments

Communication from the European Commission on the "Future of Food and Farming"

EU law-making process

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Better targeting for a fairer deal

To ensure stability and predictability, income support will remain an essential part of the CAP. As a part of this, basic payments will continue to be based on the farm’s size in hectares. However, the future CAP must prioritise small and medium-sized farms and encourage young farmers to join the profession.

This is why the Commission proposes:

  • a higher level of support per hectare for small and medium-sized farms;
  • to reduce the share of direct payments received above €60,000 per farm and to limit payments at €100,000 per farm, with a view to ensure a fairer distribution of payments;
  • a minimum of 2% of direct support payments allocated to each EU country set aside for young farmers, complemented by financial support under rural development and measures facilitating access to land and land transfers;
  • EU countries having to ensure that only genuine farmers receive support.
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Higher green ambitions

Farmers play a key role in tackling climate change, protecting the environment and preserving landscapes and biodiversity. The European Commission aims to facilitate the role of farmers by ensuring that the CAP will:

  • contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as sustainable energy;
  • foster sustainable development and efficient management of natural resources such as water, soil and air;
  • contribute to the protection of biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services and preserve habitats and landscapes.

A new green architecture

In its proposals, the Commission sets out a new green architecture for the CAP, featuring strengthened mandatory requirements and increased funding opportunities for green farming. Amongst the measures foreseen in the proposals are:

  • the preservation of soils through requirements to protect carbon-rich wetlands and practice crop rotation;
  • an obligatory nutrient management tool, designed to help farmers improve water quality and reduce ammonia and nitrous oxide levels on their farms;
  • a new stream of funding from the CAP's direct payments budget for "eco-schemes", which will support and incentivise farmers to undertake agricultural practices beneficial for the climate, biodiversity, and the environment.

Through such measures, the CAP will place agriculture at the heart of the European Green Deal, as well as the EU’s ambitious biodiversity and farm to fork strategies.

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Farmers at the heart of Europe's society

Farmers are at the heart of Europe’s rural communities, providing vital public goods. The future CAP proposes to develop, support and invest in our rural communities, by:

  • helping new generations of farmers to join the profession, through encouraging knowledge transfer from one generation to the next and improving access to land for young farmers;
  • promoting employment, growth, social inclusion and local development in rural areas, including bio-economy and sustainable forestry;
  • improving the response of EU agriculture to societal demands on food and health, including safe, nutritious and sustainable food, food waste, as well as animal welfare;
  • providing continued support for rural communities through the smart villages initiative and community-led local developments under the LEADER programme.
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A new way of working

The European Commission proposes to simplify and modernise how the CAP works, shifting the emphasis from rules and compliance towards results and performance.

An updated EU-wide framework

The framework of the policy will be based upon nine specific objectives, focusing on the social, economic, and environmental goals of the CAP.

In order to achieve these objectives, the Commission will provide a toolbox of broad policy measures, which EU countries can shape around their own needs and capabilities.

The Commission will also provide a common set of result indicators as part of a new performance, monitoring and evaluation framework, which will be used to assess the progress of EU countries in reaching the CAP objectives.

CAP strategic plans

Each EU country will draw up their own CAP strategic plan, setting out how they will direct CAP funding towards specific targets and how these targets will contribute to the overall EU objectives.

When drawing up their plans, each country will liaise with the Commission, hold consultations with experts and stakeholders, and undertake an extensive SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of their specific needs.

All strategic plans will be submitted to the European Commission for evaluation and approval before they are implemented. Additionally, EU countries will submit an annual performance report to show progress towards the targets that have been set.

Benefits of the new way of working

  • A more effective delivery model

The new approach combines detailed planning and clear objectives with workable measures and comprehensive monitoring to ensure that results can be achieved.

  • Greater flexibility

In the future CAP, EU countries will have greater freedom to shape rules and funding allocations around the needs of their farmers and rural communities, as long as they are in line with EU standards and objectives.

  • Streamlined administration

Countries shall submit only one strategic plan, covering income support, sectorial strategies, and rural development, allowing for a smoother execution and less of an administrative burden.

  • Stronger environmental protection

When presenting their strategic plans, countries will be obliged to demonstrate a higher environmental ambition than at present. The new way of working will allow countries to turn EU-wide standards and objectives into actions that are relevant to the reality on the ground.

Related information

CAP specific objectives by country

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Boosting innovation

Knowledge and innovation are essential for a smart, resilient and sustainable agricultural sector. The CAP of the future will both encourage increased investment in research and innovation and enable farmers and rural communities to benefit from it.

Therefore, it is essential to build stronger agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKIS) to boost initiation and development of innovation projects, to disseminate their results and to use them as widely as possible. Including national AKIS strategies in CAP strategic plans will incentivise the structuring and organisation of the national innovation ecosystem. Ensuring that well-functioning AKIS exist throughout the EU avoids duplication of efforts, saves costs, increases the impact of EU and national/regional funding and speeds up innovation.

Successful AKIS strategies include four main group of actions:

  1. enhancing knowledge flows and strengthening links between research and practice;
  2. strengthening all farm advisory services and fostering their interconnection within the AKIS;
  3. enhancing cross-thematic and cross-border interactive innovation;
  4. supporting the digital transition in agriculture.

The European Commission has proposed to set aside €10 billion from the Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation in food, agriculture, rural development and the bioeconomy. The agricultural European innovation partnership (EIP-AGRI) will continue to pool funding sources from Horizon Europe and rural development to foster competitive and sustainable farming and forestry.

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A strong budget

Following the adoption of the long-term budget of the EU for 2021-27 the future CAP will be supported by robust funding.

  • €387 billion

    in CAP funding

The CAP’s European agricultural guarantee fund (EAGF) has been set at €291.1 billion (in current prices), while its European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD), including the Next Generation EU funding, will amount to €95.5 billion.

  • Up to €8 billion

    from Next Generation EU

Next Generation EU will reinforce the budget of the EAFRD by €8 billion to help rural areas make the structural changes necessary to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal and digital transition.

  • Up to 25%

    transfer between income support and rural development

In order to allow EU countries to better adapt the policy to their farming sectors’ priorities, they will have the option to transfer up to 25% of their CAP allocations between income support and rural development. EU countries can apply additional flexibilities for certain specific purposes, such as supporting environment and climate objectives, supporting young farmers and in the case of countries with below-average direct payments.

Related information

EU budget for the future