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Photo: MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher

Polish President Andrzej Duda met with the agriculture ministers of eight Central and Eastern European countries here on Monday to discuss their stance on the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The meeting took place in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the EU’s next long-term (2021-2027) budget, which include possible changes to the level of EU subsidies to promote rural development and farming.

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Duda hosted ministers from Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Romania, as well as the European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski.

The countries attending the meeting are opposed to newly proposed cuts amounting to five billion euros (5.4 billion U.S. dollars) to the money allocated to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the main instrument of the EU’s agricultural subsidies program under the CAP. The cuts are mainly advocated by western European and Nordic EU members, but frowned upon by central and eastern European members.

Poland currently receives around 4.5 billion euros annually in CAP payments.

The Polish president told journalists after the meeting that the participants shared his position that the subsidies allocated to them from the CAP should not be lower than in the previous budget. “Our position is that Polish farmers should receive (direct) subsidies at the level of the EU average,” he said.

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According to Duda, Polish farmers currently receive 21 euros less in subsidies per hectare than the European average. Other countries in the region have similar concerns.

Duda also stressed that agriculture is facing new environmental challenges, including climate change, that require more European investments rather than less.

Other issues include population decreases in rural areas, the prevalence of larger farms at the cost of smaller businesses, intensification of production, and the use of artificial fertilizers.

Source: Xinhua – WARSAW

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