Alyn Smith MEP has condemned the UK Government for failing to negotiate a greater share for Scotland of the Rural Development budget for 2014-2020.
This follows the release of figures from the European Commission (which have yet to be formally approved by the European Parliament) showing the proposed breakdown of the €84.723 billion 7 year Rural Development budget among 28 Member States, which leaves the UK with €350m for 2014, falling to €306m by 2020.
While all Member States face cuts due to the tighter budgetary circumstances of a Europe dealing with austerity, some had hoped that Scotland’s position as the region with the lowest rural development spend would change, but the figures suggest that the UK as a whole will still do badly out of rural development funding.
The negotiation between the UK government and the Scottish government about Scotland’s allocation has yet to take place.
Alyn calculates that the UK stands dead last among EU countries at €20 per hectare in 2014, based on constant 2011 prices and 2011 agricultural area (the last data available), and which compares to an EU average of €72 per hectare, with countries of a similar population and agricultural area to Scotland enjoying a far greater share. Ireland receives €70 per hectare, Finland €138 per hectare, and the Czech Republic €83 per hectare.
Alyn also highlights that during the budgetary negotiations at the European Council summit in February, the UK missed the chance to negotiate itself a top-up of Rural Development funds: unlike France, who received €1 billion extra, Portugal at €500m and Ireland at €100m for the 7 years. In total, 11 Member States received sweetheart deals in the MFF - but not the UK, despite it receiving the lowest share of subsidy per hectare throughout the EU.