28 January 2015
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Alfred Sant (S&D)
Subject: Agriculture in Malta
Having regard to the data published in the Eurostat brief of December 2014 entitled ‘EU Agricultural and Farm Economics Briefs No 3’, and other EU statistics on agriculture, including those furnished in the Commission’s annual agriculture reports, in which it was stated that, notwithstanding a few exceptions, Malta has a constant negative outturn in the sector, could the Commission answer the following:
1. Does it agree with the view that agriculture in Malta, which to date operates under the most stringent conditions existing in the EU, needs to be maintained?
2. If so, does it agree that the implementation of the common agricultural policy to Maltese farming is proving to be counterproductive over the medium to long term and will lead to its dying out, despite the ameliorative effects of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and other funds applied to the sector?
3. Would the Commission be prepared to consider new proposals that would provide for specific conditions for the operation of the Maltese agricultural sector which would be suited to the very specific niche in which it operates?
19 March 2015
Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission
1. Yes. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides support to ensure that farming activity remains in place throughout the European territory, including parts of Europe where farming is particularly difficult, such as hilly, mountainous, insular and/or remote areas. It must be noted that the allocation for Malta under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for the programming period 2014-2020 was considerably increased to an amount of EUR 99 million.
2. No. Rural development policy allows for a flexible approach and provides Member States with the possibility to design a tailor-made programme taking into account the specificities of the programme area. The Maltese Rural Development Programme for the programming period 2014-2020, was presented to the Commission services on the 01/07/2014 and is still under consideration. The new system of direct payments to farmers also provides Member States with a large degree of flexibility to address Member States’ specificities.
3. No, in view of the flexibility provided under current CAP rules, there is no need for new proposals.