The European Commission adopted new rules for state aid in agriculture, forestry and rural areas today, 25 June 2014, following a public consultation on the revision of the regulation earlier this year. CEJA was particularly present in this consultation, and produced a policy document on the subject in direct relation to young farmers. None of CEJA’s recommendations were taken on board, constituting a missed opportunity by the institutions in the pursuit of increased generational renewal in the European farming population.
Considering that access to land is the single most substantial barrier young people are faced with when attempting to enter the agricultural sector in Europe, CEJA maintains that state aid for land acquisition for young farmers is essential in order to increase the number of young farmers in the EU. CEJA would also argue that state aid is not just compatible with EU rules on fair competition, but in fact contributes to meeting the same objectives in this case. Because young farmers have to overcome so many more barriers than young people in other sectors in order to set up a business and ensure its success, positive discrimination is required to help them to achieve this. With this in mind, CEJA calls on the institutions to revise the rules, most importantly by making state aid for land acquisition for young farmers a standalone measure, as it is essential that this issue be tackled separately and independently in the regulation.
CEJA President Matteo Bartolini commented on the adoption of the new rules, stating that: “considering escalating youth unemployment and that only 7% of farmers are under the age of 35 across the EU28, the European Commission has today failed to send a strong signal through targeted measures in this respect, thereby putting food security, the countless public goods delivered by young farmers and the future of EU agriculture itself at increased risk.”
For further information:
Jessica Fitch, Communications Officer, Tel: +32 (0)2 230 4210