Agriculture portfolio for Polish Commissioner downsized

The next President of the EC Ursula von der Leyen has decided to strip the EC’s Agriculture portfolio of responsibilities for state aid to agriculture.

The candidate for EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowki is to have his portfolio downsized. The state aid for agriculture brief is to pass to the EC’s VP Margarethe Vestager who is to be responsible for all state aid issues.

According to the EC the decision, taken by the next President of the EC Ursula von der Leyen, has been taken in order to strengthen the role of competition in all sectors. This marks a change from the current situation in which DG Agriculture was responsible for state aid in crisis situations and took decisions on the allocation of resources in such circumstances.

The Agriculture portfolio will now concentrate on the food economy and employment issues relating to agriculture.

The Commissioner for Agriculture will also be expected to lend support to the EU’s response to changes in demography, technology and climate. He will also be expected to complete negotiations on the CAP post-2020 and then on creating and overseeing mechanisms for its implementation. These are to include determining environmental, biodiversity and climate objectives for member states in order to reduce the use of pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals.

His brief will include the formation of a new long-term vision for rural development. It is expected that this objective will be realized in close cooperation with the EC’s VP responsible for democracy and demographics.

Finally, the brief will also require the Commissioner for Agriculture to promote European food and food standards externally.

The EP will vote on the new EC en block in October. However, hearings for individual Commissioners will be held in late September by the relevant EP committees.