Billions unspent in EU Agriculture budget
Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has said that Europe is heading for an underspend of nearly £2.9 billion (3.6 billion Euro) in its 2008 Common Agriculture Programme (CAP) Budget.
Ms de Brún said:
"There is a gap of billions between what is available under the CAP budget and what will be spent. This means that there will be a projected underspend of almost £2.9 billion in the CAP Budget this year.
"Even when the proposal for a package to support farming in the developing world, called the 'Food Facility', is approved there will still be over £2 billion (€2.95 billion) in 2008 that could be used to make a real and lasting difference in some of our most hard pressed sectors.
"This could allow member states to put together a substantial package for our fishing industry or sheep farmers that would still be well within the EU's Common Agriculture Programme (CAP) Budget.
"And we could do all of this without putting CAP or the Single Farm Payment (SFP) at risk because there are already safeguards built into the CAP Budget. We could do the right thing in terms of the developing world yet still be in a position because of the huge underspend to provide additional support to some of our hard pressed sectors."
Note to Editors
The Financial Perspectives (FP) are financial ceilings for the period 2007-2013. The CAP budget is agreed annually by member states, based on the needs of the sector. Annual budgets may not exceed the FP ceilings. The CAP Budget in 2008 is some €3.6 billion less than the FP ceiling for that year.
The €3.6b unused margin between the CAP Budget and the FP Ceiling in 2008 will ensure that the Financial Perspectives are not breached even if, as expected, the Food Facility proposal is approved by the European Parliament and European Council and a margin of €2.95b would remain in 2008.
The Commission has already built in a specific protection for the CAP. The draft regulation provides that the amount proposed for the Food Facility each year must leave a minimum margin of at least €600 million between the CAP Budget and the FP Ceiling. This means that if the CAP Budget came within €600m of the FP ceiling, the Food Facility budget would be reduced until the margin is restored. It also means that the SFP is protected, because cuts in the SFP (degressivity) only kick in when the margin is reduced below €300m.