Proposed Modifications to the Strategic Plan for the CAP

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19 Mar 2024

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food has forwarded a proposal to the autonomous communities for amending the Strategic Plan for the CAP.

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  • The proposal entails significant flexibilities in accessing aid, benefiting a wide range of farmers and livestock breeders.
  • It incorporates flexibilities recently adopted by the European Commission, addressing Spainโ€™s key requests.
  • Implementation hinges on approval from the European Commission, as well as adoption by the European Parliament and Council.
  • The Ministry has submitted a proposal for modifying the CAP Strategic Plan to the Autonomous Communities, initiating informal dialogue with the European Commission.

The document, which has been discussed in technical meetings and in the sessions of the PEPAC coordination body held on March 4 and 13, has been prepared based on the proposals submitted by the Regional Management Authorities, as well as the contributions made by agricultural professional organizations and agri-food cooperatives in recent months, and takes into account the experience of the first year of plan implementation.

Its preparation has also considered the need to ensure the coherence of the Strategic Plan as a whole and the ability to achieve the goals and objectives established therein.

The document includes significant flexibilities for farmers and livestock breeders, particularly regarding enhanced conditionality and eco-schemes.

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Regarding enhanced conditionality, the proposal already incorporates the flexibilities included today by the European Commission in its proposal for amending the basic regulations of the CAP. This proposal represents a clear advancement and responds to the majority of the requests made by Spain in recent months and at the Council of Ministers of Agriculture on February 26.

Thus, and making use of the greater subsidiarity granted to Member States, it is proposed to flexibilize the requirements regarding Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) that farmers and livestock breeders must meet to fully receive CAP aid.

Specifically, flexibility is requested regarding tillage management (GAEC 5), rules for maintaining minimum soil cover (GAEC 6), crop rotation (GAEC 7), and it is proposed to eliminate the obligation to allocate a portion of the exploitation surface to non-productive areas (GAEC 8).

Furthermore, it is proposed to significantly flexibilize the design of eco-schemes, aids that reward those farmers and livestock breeders who carry out practices beneficial to climate and the environment. Among these flexibilities, it is worth noting the proposals made to promote a greater adoption of practices on pasture surfaces by breeders in the Cornisa region, particularly sustainable mowing practices and biodiversity islands.

Significant flexibilities are proposed for vegetal and inert cover practices in woody crops, especially in rainfed plantations, where it is more difficult to establish these covers. It will be allowed to establish these covers in alternate rows, grazing on them, and vertical tillage in certain periods.

The document transmitted by the ministry also includes numerous proposals for modification regarding rural development interventions that have been submitted by the Regional Management Authorities, ranging from the inclusion of new interventions to changes in their design or financial allocations.

The final content and implementation of the set of proposals are conditioned on the one hand to the approval of the modification of the PEPAC by the European Commission, and on the other hand to the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the text that was adopted on March 15 by the European Commission.

The timing of the implementation of each of the flexibilities will depend on the texts finally approved, although a significant portion of the new proposals on conditionality will be applied retroactively from January 1, 2024, and therefore, will already have an effect for this yearโ€™s single application.

Process of Amending the Strategic Plan for the CAP

The process of modification of the PEPAC is described in Royal Decree 1046/2022, of December 27, which regulates its governance and that of the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which in turn is based on the provisions of Regulation 2021/2115 on EU strategic plans.

In accordance with this regulation, Member States may submit to the European Commission a request for modification of their national strategic plans once per calendar year.

The modification process begins with an initial phase of informal dialogue between the Member State and the Commission, aimed at shortening the approval deadlines for the formal submission of modifications.

Once this phase is completed, the Management Authority of the PEPAC (General Secretariat of Agricultural Resources and Food Safety) will present to the Coordination Body the modification request, which must decide on its elevation to the Sectoral Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development, prior to its formal submission to the European Commission for final approval.

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