Brussels Daily
29 Sep 2016


Brussels Daily

Boosting rural jobs in the EU? Yes we can, Agriculture MEPs say

EU and its member states can and must do the utmost to boost rural employment. To this end the EU’s farm policy must be simplified, well-funded and updated to foster innovation and competitiveness and provide better access to vital services, capital and land in the countryside, says a resolution the Agriculture committee adopted on Thursday. MEPs also want EU to be more active in correcting market failures and demand better crisis-prevention systems and risk-management tools for farmers.


“We need to ensure that our rural areas have a future and that they not only survive but thrive. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), encouraging the intensification of production and concentration of farms, had a negative impact on employment in rural areas. The new CAP will have to regain its legitimacy and meet the employment challenge. It should focus, through direct support, on small and medium-sized farms, which account for 79% of farms and are the most successful in terms of employment,” said rapporteur Eric Andrieu (S&D, FR). His own-initiative report was backed by the Agriculture committee with 32 votes in favour to seven against.


Make full use of existing CAP tools

The Commission should provide bigger support to the European agricultural model based on family-run, diversified and multifunctional farming and to make retention and creation of fairly paid jobs in rural areas its priority, says the draft non-legislative resolution.

The adopted text calls on member states to make full use of all existing tools the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) offers to encourage young and other new entrants into farming and align their national policies for instance in fields of land-use, taxation and social security to this end. MEPs also want national capitals to increase coupled aid for active farmers and adjust it to the level of employment required for any given crop.


Focus on simplification and job creation

To boost employment in rural areas the EU should simplify its farming policy, ensure easier implementation of its environmental requirements and provide for sufficient future funding of the CAP, at least at the current level, MEPs say. They warn that further conditions for receiving direct payments would only undermine job-creating potential of EU farms. The committee also calls on m

The CAP’s rural development policy should be strengthened but not at expense of farmers’ direct payments, MEPs say. They want the EU’s farm policy to focus more on job creation and retention, inter-alia by creating recruitment incentives and providing easier access for new businesses to micro-financing. It should also improve services in rural areas, help make agricultural activities more efficient and reduce costs, they say.


Making innovation and land access key priorities

Fostering research and innovation should become a priority both on national and the EU level, MEPs believe. To this end they call on the Commission and member states to make most of the Horizon2020 and of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) and encourage them to support more trainings that would help farmers and rural workers become more versatile, innovative and able to diversify their activities.

Access to land for both existing small holdings and new farmers is vital for preserving and creating more jobs in rural areas. MEPs therefore call on member states to develop instruments to ensure land access through for instance participatory use and management of farm land and to establish systems providing information on available land.


Stronger market management and rapid crisis reaction

To better respond to volatility and the demands of the global market farmers should turn to new risk-management tools and make full use of existing ones – such as producer organisations, says the resolution. EU Commission, for its part, should develop more rapid and effective intervention systems to prevent the most negative effects of market crisis and ensure fast and proactive implementation of existing market and exceptional crisis measures, it adds.

Furthermore, the EU must be more active in correcting market failures and ensuring the resilience and competitiveness of its agricultural sector, MEP say. They demand effective safety nets, prevention and crisis management systems to strike balance between supply and demand, innovative risk management tools with farmers’ financial involvement, stronger insurance schemes against inter-alia economic risks, and more money to finance market-stabilisation measures.


Supporting quality and local products

Shorter supply chains and quality labels can also stimulate job creation, MEPs believe. To this end they want to update the legislation on public tenders to allow local authorities promote local production and demand measures to provide better access to wider markets for local or traditional quality products.

The committee also calls for simplification of procedures for getting a quality label protection but it rejects any changes that could undermine quality of these products in the eyes of customers.


Next Steps

The draft resolution, as approved by the Agriculture committee, will now be scrutinised by the Parliament as a whole. The vote of the House is preliminary scheduled for the 24-27 October plenary session in Strasbourg.


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