An unprecedented measure for an unprecedented time. Translated: additional fresh money for the rural and agriculture European sector, now. The agricultural committee has in fact given its green light to anticipate on 1st January 2021 the allocation of over €8 billion from the European Recovery Instrument (ERI) to support the sector in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. More importantly, these funds will represent an economic stimulus to pave the way towards a more resilient, sustainable and digital sector in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity Strategies. These funds, initially linked in the EU Commission’s proposal to the entry into force of the CAP Reform in 2023, will be available until 31st December 2022.
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development rapporteur and the S&D coordinator in the agriculture committee, Paolo De Castro, said:
“Once again, the European Parliament has listened to the real needs and calls for support coming from our citizens and the rural and agri-food sector. This very timely and bold decision, endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the agriculture committee, will be the basis of our negotiating mandate and allow us to immediately kick-off the inter-institutional negotiations with the EU Commission and Council.
“We are particularly proud to have ensured that these funds will be aimed at increasing resilience, sustainability and digitalisation of the sector and not just to finance the business-as-usual.
“Therefore, at least 37% of the additional resources will be addressed and focused on organic farming; on the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture; on soil conservation, including the enhancement of soil fertility through carbon sequestration; the improvement of the use of and management of water, including water saving and drainage; on the creation, conservation and restoration of habitats favourable to biodiversity; on the reduction of the risks and impacts of pesticide and antimicrobial use; on animal health and welfare; and lastly on the LEADER programme (links between actions for the development of the rural economy).”
“Last but not least, 55% of the funds will be allocated to support young farmers and boost investments on social and economic development of rural areas through support to short supply chains and local markets, innovation, smart and precision farming, safety conditions at work, renewable energy and circular economy.
“As progressives, we are proud of having massively contributed to this goal and of having pushed the EU to show concrete solidarity to one of the sectors that, even in the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, has never backed off from its responsibility and duties towards EU citizens.”