Harghita County Council, in cooperation with the DAHR – Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, organized an EPP local consultation event, entitled “Common European agricultural policy for the small farmers – EPP Local Dialogue on the future of rural development and agriculture”, that took place on 8th of June 2018 in Miercurea Ciuc. The event was the first EPP local dialogue organized in Romania. It focused on this highly debated issue, based on the fact that the rural development and local agricultural stakeholders need to be the beneficiaries of the next Common Agricultural Policy after 2020 as well.
Mr. Csaba Borboly, president of the County Council and member of the European Committee of the Regions said that there are several similar consultation events that are taking place and these are great possibilities to influence the decision making from Brussels. He called the attention that we need to focus on the CAP and to enforce our interests in Brussels, because in other way we will only take note of the decisions of others. „In the past days a proposal was released by the European Commission regarding the CAP after 2021 and we have to hold on tight: it does not serve the interests of farmers from mountainous areas. However, based on my several years of experience at the Committe of the Regions, I am hopeful that the decisions from Brussels can be influenced, but only by representing our points of view with persistence.” – said the president, highlighting that there will be strong consequences among Sekler farmers if the CAP will be approved with its current proposed form. That is why people need to understand that the European election of 2019 has a major bet and it matters how strong our representation will be in the EP. “We need to raise the attention of farmers and local representatives, mayors that the –so far known – financial support on agriculture might completely disappear, so they need to be prepared for the worse. But if we prepare properly, we could avoid this scenario.”- declared Csaba Borboly.
Mr. Barna Tánczos, senator, have already participated in several, multi-level consultations on the theme of agriculture and considers that it is still an important question how the European Parliament election of next year could influence the CAP. There is a debate on whether the current body should decide on this issue (however there is no time to do the proper preparation for this) or the new parliament should vote on this question. There is also a possibility for a transitional period, but currently the CAP is the mostly debated theme in the parliament, because most of the EU budget is consisted by the financial support for agriculture. The senator hopes that the support system after 2021 will beneficial for the farmers, but we need partners for this and it is necessary to “knock on each institution’s door, where we speak the most languages in agriculture”.
Mr. László Csák, expert, also raised the attention on the fact that everything will be different compared to what the farmers were used to. He described briefly the proposals formulated in the European Commission: the CAP’s plan for 2021 is a huge reversal; practically the rural development tools were „erased”. This is the price of the Brexit from one point of view. On other hand, most of the EU’s companies are from urban areas and they are usually not interested in investments aimed to rural and agricultural development. The European agricultural lobby is on winning stand on what the investment development is concerned, and in precision agriculture for instance. This would push in background the traditional local producers – highlighted Mr. Csák. Regarding the proposal to elaborate the agricultural strategy by each member state would also be disadvantageous for the Sekler farmers, because the Bucharest-centred priorities and the lobby of the southern counties would also be unfavourable for us.
Mr. Csaba Sógor, Member of the European Parliament, said that the Brexit influenced the reform of the CAP, because by this, the EU budget for the next seven years will decrease and its effect will be felt on the financial support for agriculture as well. The MEP said that the DAHR must support the interest of the Romanian Hungarian local producers’ interest both in the European Parliament and in the Romanian Parliament. “It is not the same that the greater part of the EU funds reach big companies and farmers with hundreds of hectares or the rural and small-medium sized farmers are aimed to be supported. By supporting small and medium-sized farms, we also support the survival of the population in the countryside, the family farming model and the sustainability of rural life. Smaller farms are more dynamic, employ more people and are definitely more environment friendly.” – said the Member. He also presented the 9 objectives of the CAP and he called the attention that there is no decision on the CAP of after 2021 and its priorities should be formulated based on the Sekler farmers’ interests and we need to try to enforce these interests on all European and national decision making forums.
Mr. Attila Korodi, member of the parliament, considers that there is a great pressure from the EU, because it tries to represent the interests of the industrial scale agriculture and this fact could influence the decision making forums from Bucharest as well. Furthermore, there is a great debate on this problem and that is why a major battle is expected. We need to be prepared for this with partnerships and it is proposed to seek for these associates in historical regions, such as Bukovina, Maramureș and usually in the Carpathian regions. „Loud presence counterbalance large numbers” – said Mr. Korodi.
Mr. Csaba Sebestyén, also member of the parliament, expressed his hope that the probable outcomes presented by Mr. Csák will not happen. He considers that the CAP can be both misapplied and in an optimal way and is confident that there is a local capacity to figure out how it might be turned in the benefit of the local farmers. He also considers that it is important to include the local aspect in the program and there is a major bet from this point of view. The farmers receive as much support as they can lobby and this is their chance to enforce their interest for their benefit.
Mr. Csaba Könczei, director of the Agricultural Directorate of Covasna County expressed his proposal to commonly formulate the vision of the Seklerland Agriculture of 2027. For this, there is a necessity to invite all farmers’ associations to one table. Mr. Jenő Török, the director of the Agricultural Directorate of Harghita County highlighted that there is also a need to remind the western European politicians that 70 percent of the support approved for former socialist countries returns to the West in various forms.
Mr. István Becze, county councillor of Harghita County, said that the local farmers need to be prepared in time on what is expected and to guide them to that right path which would assure them not only a proper income from agriculture, but a better living standard as well: „There is a possibility for this and this should be our future vision”.
Mr. Csák, by summarizing the debate concluded that “we are in a good situation at the moment” on local level, because we could formulate a proposal and if elaborated in a professional way, this could be successfully represented in Brussels. “We are ahead from this point of view, because there is no proposal from the Romanian ministries at the moment and no one will formulate our proposals for us”.
Mr. Borboly also concluded that the importance of the event was to share with the European People’s Party and the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat the local proposals and this is why it is important to fill out the surveys distributed during the event. Predictability is important, the fact that people are informed in time on what is expected. They already planning, investing and it matters on what path they can undertake.- he added.
The event was honored by Mr. Lóránt Antal senator and by several local and county public administration representatives, as well as specialists on rural development and agriculture. The consultation on this theme will continue and a higher level event is planned within the EPP’s Grassroots programme series, where we hope to have the possibility to welcome Western European politicians as well.
Regarding the planned amendments on the CAP, the DAHR approved a strategic document in 2017 (http://rmdsz.ro/sajtoszoba/hir/strategiai-dokumentumot-uj-alapszabalyzatot-es-programot-fogadott-el-az-rmdsz-zilahi-kongresszusa). Also, the European Committee of the Regions voted on Mr. Csaba Borboly’s modification proposal on CAP of after 2020, which states that supporting small- and medium sized farms should be a priority in the future as well (https://www.borbolycsaba.ro/sikerult-atvinni-az-apia-tamogatasok-megtartasat-celzo-modosito-javaslatokat/). Mr. President also called the attention on this issue in Bruxelles, because farmers may miss more than sixty million euros a year if the current proposal on CAP for 2021-2027 will be approved. http://www.rmdsz.ro/sajtoszoba/hir/borboly-csaba-brusszelben-az-apia-tamogatasok-megvonasa-nagy-ervagas-lenne-a-gazdaknak).