Equalising EU farm subsidies would cost over EUR 20 bln

Wojciechowski added that EU member states that receive less than the average subsidy have the right to expect funding at the average level, or about EUR 270 per hectare. /PAP/EPA

Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU's commissioner-elect for agriculture, in a conversation with PAP, estimated that making EU agricultural subsidies equal for all member states would cost the bloc's budget over EUR 20 billion.

'Equalising' subsidies would mean over a dozen member states achieving the EU average level of subsidy. "Depending on the pace of that equalisation, they are amounts in the realm of a dozen or so, to twenty-something billion euros," Wojciechowski said. In the future commissioner's opinion, increasing the EU budget for agriculture should be included in the fields of environment and climate.

"European taxpayers should have certainty that if more money goes into agriculture, it will be spent in a way that is conducive to protecting the environment, protecting the climate and the welfare of animals," he told PAP.

Wojciechowski added that EU member states that receive less than the average subsidy have the right to expect funding at the average level, or about EUR 270 per hectare. However in the event that the EU budget for agriculture is reduced in relation to the 2014-2020 perspective, as the European Commission proposes, the average subsidy would fall to EUR 260 per hectare. Wojciechowski believes that level is fair.

Wojciechowski said the subsidy in Poland stands at EUR 241 per hectare and would be only EUR 215 if not for Poland's decision to move part of the funds from the second pillar for development of rural areas. "That is EUR 30 less than the average in Europe and we should try to eliminate that difference," he said. "But it is an issue not only for Poland, it is an issue for over a dozen other countries, including those of the so-called old EU: Portugal, Finland and Sweden."

In Wojciechowski's assessment, in order to fill the gap in the budget, Poland's contribution would have to increase by about EUR 1 billion. The main burden of the hike, however, would fall on countries that are net contributors.