The EC is not interested in Malta’s agricultural specific conditions – Sant
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Alfred Sant has said that if the European Commission is not interested in promoting new agricultural projects in Malta, these initiatives should be taken by the Maltese nation to ensure the sustainable operations of Maltese farmers and animal breeders in Malta and Gozo.
The MEP stated that statistics provided by the Commission show that Maltese agriculture has been showing negative signs during the last years. The Eurostat brief of December 2014 and other EU agricultural statistics state that notwithstanding a few exceptions, “Malta has a constant negative outturn in the agricultural sector.”
Dr. Sant was reacting after the Commission told him there was no need for new proposals that would provide specific conditions for the Maltese agricultural sector.
“The EC is not interested in the problems Maltese and Gozitan farmers and animal breeders are facing. The Commission does not seem preoccupied with the downward trend in the agricultural sector due to the small size of the Malta islands. We must keep insisting on the value of agriculture in Malta and Gozo.” reiterated Alfred Sant.
Dr. Sant asked the EC whether it agreed with the view that agriculture in Malta, which to date operates under the most stringent conditions existing in the EU, needs to be maintained. He also asked the Commission if it agrees that the implementation of the common agricultural policy to Maltese faming is proving to be counterproductive and will lead to its dying out.
Replying to Dr. Sant, Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development , denied that the common agricultural policy affected negatively agriculture in Malta. “Rural development policy allows for a flexible approach and provides Member States with the possibility to design a tailor-made programme taking into account the specificities of the programme area.”
The Commission said the Maltese Rural Development Programme for the programming period 2014-2020 is still under consideration. The new system of direct payments to farmers also provides Member States with a large degree of flexibility to address Member States’ specificities.
Hogan said the Common Agricultural Policy provides support to ensure that farming activity remains in place throughout the European territory, including parts of Europe where farming is particularly difficult, such as hilly, mountainous, insular and/or remote areas.
The Commission noted that the allocation for Malta under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for the programming period 2014-2020 was considerably increased to €99 million.