There is still a “nuclear button” within the European Union which, if pressed could seriously delay Common Agricultural Policy reform.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association at Perth yesterday Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon warned, as others have in recent weeks, of the need for the Scottish Government to reveal its Cap implementation plan as soon as possible.
“The European Parliament could still press the nuclear button on Cap reform. It has to approve what are known as the delegated acts. These are the implementation rules which the European Commission has drawn up following the parliament’s vote on June 26 last year.
“If the parliament was for any reason to vote down these implementation rules the next chance to vote on it would be October or November once a new commissioner is appointed,” said Mr Lyon.
Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos will effectively stand down from his post on April 22 just ahead of the European elections in early May. A new commissioner will not be in place until the autumn leaving a lengthy gap without political control.
This could leave some Scottish requests, such as special measures to define active farming and to stop slipper farming, in limbo, believed Mr Lyon.
“The problem I see with the Scottish proposals is that they are being driven by the need for bureaucratic simplicity. The other main aim is to stop slipper farming but that can’t be the only aim. There is, of course, a need to support active farmers and Richard Lochhead has spoken about that for long enough but nothing seems to happen.”
Mr Lyon also confirmed that he believes it is “fundamentally important” that farmers should have time to adjust to the move from historic to area based payments. “Germany and England have already made the move but it took them seven years. I don’t see how it can be done in 12 months,” he said.