Delivering on the new CAP objectives
The European Commission presented its proposal for the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform in 2018, introducing a new way of working to modernise and simplify the EU’s policy on agriculture. Following extensive negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, agreement was reached and the new CAP was formally adopted on 2 December 2021. It is due to be implemented from 1 January 2023.
The CAP’s new performance- and results-based approach is more flexible and takes into account local conditions and needs, while increasing the EU’s ambitions in terms of sustainability. It is built around ten objectives, which are also the basis upon which EU countries design their CAP Strategic Plans.
Role of CAP Strategic Plans
EU countries will implement the new CAP with a CAP Strategic Plan at national level. Each Plan will combine a wide range of targeted interventions addressing the specific needs of that EU country and deliver tangible results in relation to EU-level objectives, while contributing to the ambitions of the European Green Deal. EU countries were required to produce a thorough assessment of what must be done, based on a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of their territory and agri-food sector.
EU countries were given until 31 December 2021 to submit their CAP Strategic Plans. Following this, the Commission had six months to approve the Plans ahead of their implementation in January 2023. The approval process is based on the criteria laid down in Regulation (EU) 2021/2115 establishing rules on support for strategic plans to be drawn up by EU countries under the common agricultural policy (CAP Strategic Plans).
The Commission is assessing whether the EU countries’ CAP Strategic Plans contribute to, and are consistent with, EU legislation and commitments in relation to climate and the environment, including those laid out in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
The Commission is supporting EU countries throughout the whole process of preparation of their CAP Strategic Plan so that:
- EU countries take full advantage of the new CAP and its instruments to support their farmers in the transition towards increased sustainability in our food systems.
- Each CAP Strategic Plan includes an intervention strategy explaining how each EU country will use CAP instruments to achieve the CAP objectives, in keeping with the Green Deal ambitions.
Approved CAP Strategic Plans
On 31 August 2022, the first CAP Strategic Plans of EU countries were formally approved by the Commission. The Plans were the updated or revised proposals submitted by these EU countries, following observations which were made by the Commission on the initial proposals that were made in the beginning of 2022. Each of the Plans has been approved by a Commission Implementing Decision, including a financial Annex.
The Commission has also prepared a series of 'At a glance' overviews of the individual CAP Strategic Plans that have been formally approved. These documents present some of the main features of each approved CAP Strategic Plan, including:
- a snapshot of the state of agriculture in the country;
- the objectives of the new CAP Strategic Plan in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability;
- knowledge sharing, innovation and digitalisation;
- financial data relating to allocation of funds.
Observation letters on CAP Strategic Plans
By the end of May 2022, the Commission had sent observation letters relating to all 28 draft CAP Strategic Plans that were submitted by EU countries. The letters identified elements of the proposed plans that required further explanation, completion or adjustments before the Commission could approve them. Each EU country was given the opportunity to comment on their observation letter.
Alongside the letters themselves, the Commission created an overview of the content of the letters, which summarises the key elements of the 28 proposed Plans and the related observations which were made for each country.
In addition, the Commission created a technical document providing further detail on various elements of the proposed plans.
The completeness of the information provided in the linked documents is solely the responsibility of the competent national authorities.
CAP Strategic Plans recommendations
The Commission provided each EU country with tailor-made recommendations, accompanied by a communication. They aim to assist in the drafting of the national CAP Strategic Plans by identifying the key areas on which each EU country should focus.
Based on an analysis of their agricultural sector and rural areas, the recommendations aim to ensure:
- The achievement of the ten specific CAP objectives, touching upon environmental, social and economic challenges, as well as a cross-cutting objective on knowledge and innovation.
- The contribution to the Green Deal ambitions and more specifically six Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategy targets. These are quantified EU level targets on the use and risk of pesticides, sales of antimicrobials, nutrient loss, area under organic farming, high diversity landscape features and access to fast broadband internet. The Commission asks EU countries to determine specific national values for these targets and align their CAP Strategic Plans to them.
Alignment with the European Green Deal
In May 2020, a Commission report examined the potential contribution of the CAP reform proposal to the EU’s environmental, climate, and biodiversity protection commitments, as set out in the European Green Deal. The report also identified the steps needed to make the new CAP fully compatible with the Green Deal and its strategies, such as the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
This includes the provision of Commission recommendations, in the framework of the structured dialogue between the Commission and EU countries to support the development of CAP Strategic Plans that contribute to the transition foreseen in the Green Deal.
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