The latest Agriculture and Fisheries Council focused on the issue of "internal convergence" (achieving a uniform level of direct payments at regional or national level by 2019) and the young farmers scheme proposed to address the issue of the ageing farm population.
As regards internal convergence, many delegations confirmed their view that a direct payment system based on purely historical payment levels was outdated and that member states applying the single payment scheme (SPS) should achieve significant and irreversible progress towards internal convergence by 2019. While some delegations supported the rhythm and methodology proposed by the Commission, most delegations requested adjustments, particularly a smaller first step in 2014, taking account of greening payments, a longer transition period (beyond 2019) and a parallel approach on internal and external convergence. Some delegations, however, expressed the view that any flexibility on internal convergence should imply less generous possibilities for coupled aid.
On young farmers, almost all delegations acknowledged that ageing of the farming population is an issue which member states have to address in an effective and appropriate manner. While many delegations had an open position on how best to achieve this, there was insufficient support for a mandatory 1st pillar scheme alongside the voluntary 2nd pillar scheme (as proposed by the Commission), or for the alternative suggestion of a mandatory 1st pillar scheme with an opt-out for member states supporting young farmers under the 2nd pillar.
David Barnes, the Scottish Government’s Deputy Director for Agriculture and Rural Development, also reported that the next key meetings will take place on 28 to 29 November and that it is just possible that this could involve some ‘serious negotiations on the entire CAP package’. See David blog here: http://blogs.scotland.gov.uk/cap-reform/