BRUSSELS, 7 December 2018 – A coalition of farmers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania has come together today to issue an open letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, calling for a fair distribution of direct payments under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The letter comes ahead of the European Council meeting on 13 December 2018, when European Heads of State and Government will discuss the EU’s 2021-2027 Multi-Annual Framework (MFF) for the first time. The MFF negotiations are expected to directly influence decisions on the European Commission’s legislative proposals on the post-2020 CAP.
Since their accession to the EU in 2004, the three Baltic States have consistently received significantly lower agricultural funding relative to other Member States. This is due in large to the fact that initial payments were based on a reference period when the countries were transitioning from a Soviet economic model. Despite regular political commitments to redress this historical anomaly, Baltic farmers continue to receive the lowest direct payments in the European Union. This is despite the fact that their production costs are above the EU average.
Under the current CAP, the unanimous European Council agreement from 7-8 February 2013 that, “by 2020 at the latest, all Member States should reach the level of at least EUR 196 per hectare at current prices” will not be achieved. Moreover, according to the Coalition of Baltic farmers, current proposals on the table for 2021-2027 will continue to fail to address the unfair allocation of direct payments.
Baltic farmers receive only between 54-60% of the European average in direct payments, whereas their production costs amount to respectively 129% (Estonia), 112% (Lithuania) and 113% (Latvia). Furthermore, Baltic farmers have to comply with exactly the same environmental requirements, animal welfare, and food safety standards as other EU Member States without receiving similar compensation. According to the CAP reform proposals tabled by the European Commission in June 2018, by 2027, Baltic farmers would still only receive 77% of the European average. Baltic Farmers are calling on the European institutions to aim for full fairness.
A spokesperson of the Coalition of Baltic farmers explained that the original historic reference levels on the basis of which the direct payments have been set do not adequately reflect the situation of Baltic farmers: “Baltic farmers are proud Europeans, and that is why a fair European Single Market is so important to them. It is hard to explain how we can still be expected to bear higher costs than most Member States while receiving far less support.”
On 13 December 2018 (10am to 1pm CET), the farmers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will be protesting against the unfair allocation of direct payments on the Schuman Roundabout (Brussels).
#DontCAPfairness Join @BalticFarmers and ask @EUCouncil for a #fairCAP