BRUSSELS, May 27 (Reuters) - European Union negotiators are attempting to clinch a deal this week to reform the bloc's huge farming subsidy programme, to make it greener and offer more support to small farms.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will spend 387 billion euros ($474 billion), around a third of the EU's 2021-2027 budget, on payments to farmers and support for rural development, with the new rules kicking in from 2023.
Talks have dragged on for nearly three years, with negotiators representing the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament squabbling over how far they are willing to change the rules, to divert money from big businesses and tackle the 10% of EU greenhouse gases emitted by farming.
Here are the main proposals.
Negotiators are tussling over how much to set aside for eco-schemes to protect the environment, such as organic farming or restoring wetlands or peatlands to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere. read more
Parliament wanted 30% of payments to farmers used for this purpose. Member states wanted 20%, but have mooted a compromise to set aside 22% of payments to farmers from 2023 and 25% from 2025.
Environmental campaigners say this would still allow the majority of funds to be spent on polluting forms of industrial farming.
A major aim of the revamp is to stop the decline of small farms, which critics say the CAP has fuelled by supporting big businesses or landowners at the expense of family farmers.
To fix this, the European Commission and Parliament wanted a 100,000 euros per year cap per beneficiary. An alternative option under discussion could oblige each EU country to redistribute a fixed share of its CAP funds to smaller farms.
EU countries and farming groups have said redistributions should be voluntary.
WHO COUNTS AS A FARMER?
The new CAP will limit who is defined as an "active farmer" and can receive subsidies - another attempt to stop large businesses and landowners sucking up money.
Parliament wanted a stricter definition, and has said it should exclude large-scale processors of agricultural products, and stop funds going to non-agricultural businesses, such as waterworks or railway services.
Negotiators are also mulling a requirement for countries to hand roughly 3% of payments for farmers to young farmers, to help the sector attract new talent.
Each EU country will be required to draw up a plan for spending its share of the CAP, setting targets and conditions for allocating the money.
The Commission will vet these plans and can make recommendations to countries to improve them.
Up for discussion is whether the Commission will be able to reject plans that fall short, or assess their success against other targets that the EU has not yet made legally binding - for example, an aim to halve the bloc's use of chemical pesticides by 2030.
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