At a session of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 14 October, the agriculture ministers of twenty EU member states, including Hungary, supported a joint statement calling for the preservation of the current level of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding during the European Union’s upcoming multiannual financial framework.

“Hungary is unable to accept a greater reduction in funding than that justified by the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, and accordingly maintaining CAP funding at the current EU 27 level is a minimum expectation”, head of the Hungarian delegation, State Secretary for Agriculture Zsolt Feldmann said in Luxembourg.

In addition to the Central European member states, Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain also supported the joint statement by agriculture ministers proposing the preservation of CAP funding at the current EU 27 level. “As a result of the exit of one of the largest net contributors, the United Kingdom, it is not realistic for the current CAP budget of 382 billion euros to remain unchanged, but Hungary can only accept a maximum reduction as justified by the British exit”, the head of the Hungarian delegation explained.

The State Secretary pointed out that according to the European Commission’s proposal, Hungary’s CAP funding in the 2021-2027 period would be reduced by some 17 percent according to comparative prices, compared to the current programming period. Rural development would suffer the greatest cut in funding, with Hungary receiving 26 percent less funding for this purpose. “A reduction in funding of such a degree is unacceptable, while the proposed regulations would also place a significantly greater burden on farmers. We cannot ask farmers to do more while reducing their funding”, Mr. Feldmann declared.

The heads of state and government will be making the final decision on the EU’s upcoming seven-year financial framework, including the level of funding to be made available to the CAP, but the statement issued today by the twenty EU agriculture ministers can certainly be regarded as an important political message with relation to future negotiations. The weight of the initiative is increased by the fact that its supporters include both old and new member states, as well as member states that are both net contributors and beneficiaries.