Farmers could end up having to follow Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules with no guarantee of receiving direct payments if the Brexit transition period is extended.
Last week, the Prime Minister said she was ‘ready to consider’ extending the transition period by a year, to the end of 2021, to break the deadlock in talks.
The UK will have no representation in the European Parliament or the Commission during the transition, and has had no input into the latest round of CAP reform.
But EU official Tom Tynan, who is part of Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan’s team, has warned the UK will be expected to follow CAP rules and pay into the CAP budget through any extended transition.
Responding to a question from Farmers Guardian at a London Brexit conference hosted by the NFU and other European farming groups on October 25, he said: “The Prime Minister has looked for this [a transition extension]. She has not had push back from [EU chief negotiator] Michel Barnier.
“While you are in transition, you do abide by the terms and conditions of membership, so you continue to pay and abide by the rules for 33 months, as opposed to 21 months as currently proposed.
“The importance here is to get it right, and if an extra 12 months gives you this, that is how you serve the citizens of this country and the citizens of Europe.”
FG later sought clarity from the Commission on whether UK farmers would continue to receive direct payments during any extended transition period, but a spokesman refused to ‘speculate’ on the possibility.
Work on member state CAP allocations for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) from 2021-2027 is already at an advanced stage.
If the UK was forced to remain in the CAP until the end of 2021, this could throw Defra’s timeline for the introduction of its new Environmental Land Management Scheme off course.
At the moment, its seven-year ‘agricultural transition’, during which direct payments will be phased out, is due to begin in 2021.
The department declined to comment on the potential for an extended transition as ‘negotiations are ongoing’.