Welcomes financed under RDPs must genuinely meet the

Welcomes the higher allocation by the
Member States and regions of funds for environmental measures and for physical
investments aimed at boosting competitiveness and sustainable development of
rural areas; expects that those measures, together with the services which
managers of the countryside provide to the benefit of climate policy and
biodiversity strategy, will have a long-lasting impact and high economic
leverage fostering efficient additionality between the various funds;
highlights the importance of introducing the risk-management instrument as part
of the EAFRD, and calls on the Member States to support the setting-up of
mutual funds and insurance premiums with a view to removing vulnerabilities in
the agricultural sector; notes furthermore that ensuring productivity and
therefore competitiveness in the long term depends very much on investing in
environmental aspects of farming and sustainable management of soil, water and
biodiversity, such as soil erosion prevention, efficient nutrient cycling,
optimal pollination, topsoil creation and integrating agroforestry and
sustainable forest management to build resilience to climate change and to
further develop a strong bioeconomy; notes that farmers are less able to invest
in these kinds of measures themselves while their incomes are being squeezed in
the current economic situation, which makes EU and Member State funding vital
to enable a response to increasing challenges, such as future productivity
prosperity, food security and climate change;

18. Calls
on the Commission to guarantee easier and geographically balanced access to
funding, according particular priority to undertakings and cooperatives in
rural and structurally disadvantaged areas, and to projects seeking to promote
territorial cohesion and the networking of rural areas;

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19. Highlights
that the measures of the rural development funding directed at fostering
innovation and investment in emerging technologies and precision farming should
be substantially reinforced in order to enhance the competitiveness of European
enterprises in rural areas;

20. Maintains
that projects financed under RDPs must genuinely meet the need to create growth
and employment, and calls on the Commission and managing authorities to draw up
ex ante and ex post assessments of the added value and the economic and social
impact of the projects and operations financed;

21. Calls
on the Commission to ensure that mechanisms are in place to correlate production
and sales prices and thus ensure that the main beneficiaries of CAP financing
are agricultural producers;

22. Considers
that the EAFRD was not fully taken advantage of by some Member States and
regions owing to the increased complexity and control requirements imposed by
the Commission, and therefore calls for a centralised, digital system to be
introduced at European level, thus enabling accounting issues to be identified;
asks the Commission to ensure that all parties are in due time informed about
the renewed EAFRD structure and to actively facilitate the uptake and
visibility of these funds;

23. Stresses
the importance of adjustments to the ESI Funds that will enhance their
applicability to the outermost regions, boosting the economy and local employment
in these areas that are characterised by distance, remoteness, dispersion and
small size, and that consequently require particular attention in relation to
creating and preserving jobs;

24. Notes
that some Member States or regions, sometimes those most in need of rural
development, do not promote participation in schemes, nor in some cases even
offer schemes which are needed in their territories;

25. Calls
on the Commission to strengthen its role for the purpose of exchanging and
disseminating best practice among Member States and regions regarding the use
of the EAFRD;

26. Calls
on the Member States, regions and the Commission to efficiently and fully
implement the EAFRD and avoid gold-plating or adding unnecessary procedures;
underlines that oriented advisory services and
continuous monitoring and assistance are essential in the operational
programmes to support farmers, forest holders and rural communities for the
purpose of efficient and transparent implementation; asks the Commission to continue
the simplification of the CAP while not decreasing the scope of the RDPs, and thus
to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens and red tape without compromising
policy objectives, and, where feasible and necessary, to adapt the basic
legislation to this effect so as to allow for quick and easy access to European
funding, especially for small farms, with a view to achieving the CAP
objectives; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that
sufficient resources are dedicated to successful fulfilment of remaining ex ante
conditionalities; is concerned that excessive
bureaucracy and complex rules are making CAP-based financing less attractive;
hopes that simplification will be achieved without delay;

27. Welcomes the establishment by the Commission of
the High Level Group of Independent Experts on Monitoring Simplification for
Beneficiaries of the European Structural and Investment Funds, with the aim of
reducing the administrative burden for beneficiaries of these funds, including
the EAFRD; hopes that the group’s reports will make it possible to identify
practical ways to implement further simplification of European funds and to
make them easier to access;

28. Stresses
that, in order to improve the environment for investment in the EU, the necessary
structural reforms must be carried out and bureaucracy reduced;

29. Is
concerned that measures to help farmers manage risks and to set up producer
groups were not included in many programmes that could support farmers to
better react to increased market volatility;

30. Considers
that the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development has the
necessary technical knowledge and overview of rural and agricultural issues and
is therefore the natural manager of the RDPs, and urges the Commission to
ensure that staffing levels are in place to ensure proper implementation and
auditing of the CAP;

31.       Stresses that the successful achievement
of PA and OP objectives is greatly facilitated by active involvement of the
local and regional levels and of the Local Action Groups (LAGs) and other
relevant stakeholders on the ground such as cooperatives, trade associations
and POs in ensuring that projects are successfully embedded in their local
areas and effectively operated; welcomes the success of Community-led local