Ministry of Agriculture: Ministers for Agriculture of the Baltic States agree on joint actions in discussions on EU direct payments
On April 15 and 16, 2019, the Minister for Agriculture, Kaspars Gerhards left for Luxembourg, where he participated in the meeting of the European Union Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fishery, as well as for Strasbourg, where the Baltic States Ministers for Agriculture jointly held the meeting with Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources.
At the meeting of the Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fishery, discussions were held on the new conditions of the Common Agricultural Policy (RDP) after 2021 in respect of the environmental protection or green architecture. The Minister, K.Gerhards emphasized that environmental protection measures, mandatory for Latvian farmers, can be implemented under RDP on condition that equal direct payments are ensured for Latvia. It must be noted that the current European Commission’s offer is not consistent with the needs of Latvian agricultural sector as it ensures only two thirds of the average RDP payments in EU.
The Minister also pointed out that protection of wetlands, peat soils should not be introduced as a mandatory requirement, but as the requirement, which has been adapted to specific regional circumstances, moreover, also envisaging a possibility to provide a financial aid from EU to farmers, complying with the requirements. It was also pointed out that a prohibition, suggested by the European Commission, to leave bare land during the most intensive periods, is not acceptable for Latvia. Namely, even upon ongoing negotiations at a technical level, COM has not sufficiently clarified the aim of this requirement and its implementation conditions.
Whereas, the planning of plant fertilization is an instrument, well-known to farmers, for balancing plant needs with optimization of the applied fertilizers. Thus, Latvia considers that this instrument should be implemented not as the mandatory and controlled requirement, but as a guideline of working process, including the aid for information and education of farmers.
On April 16, 2019, together with the Minister of Lithuania, Giedrius Surplys and the Minister of Estonia, Tarmo Tamm, the meeting was held with Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources to discuss equal direct payments for farmers of Baltic States. During the meeting, the Ministers for Agriculture of the Baltic States emphasized that they are ready to work together so that in the next programming period equal direct payments are ensured at the EU level for Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian farmers.
The Minister, Kaspars Gerhards: “In the last 15 years, Latvian farmers, receiving considerably lower RDP support, are fighting for their competitiveness, whereas there are EU Member States entitled to considerably higher financing. In the next programming period, RDP budget is in vital need for balance therefore, already now we must actively work on developing a joint position of all the Baltic States toward joint objectives and to make us heard so that henceforth EU would take our arguments into account.”
The Commissioner Günther Oettinger pointed out that in general, the meeting was very constructive, positive and open. The Commissioner also expressed readiness to seek solutions, at the same time emphasizing that everything depends on the activity of the Baltic States and desire to agree on priorities.
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