Briussels, 21 January 2019 - Representatives from the Lithuanian Agriculture Council will attend the meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI) on 22 January 2019. The Committee will discuss the petition presented by Lithuanian farmers’, “In a Union of equals, there can be no second-class farmers!”
The petition, initiated by the Lithuanian Agriculture Council early 2018 and signed by 52 359 Lithuanian citizens within a month’s time, was drawn up in support of the 128 thousand Lithuanian beneficiaries of direct payments under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The allocation of direct payments to farmers in Lithuania has been structurally unfair since Lithuania joined the European Union.
Lithuanian farmers receive the lowest amount of direct payments in the EU: only 176 EUR/ha versus an EU average of 260 EUR/ha. In consequence, they see themselves confronted with unfair competition on the Common European market and they have not felt like equal members of the EU’s farming community for many years. All of this despite the commitment to equality and human dignity outlined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
In addition to the unfair allocation of direct payments, Lithuanian farmers are also required to comply with exactly the same EU-wide environmental requirements, food safety and animal welfare standards, and climate change mitigation measures. Meeting exactly the same greening requirements is costly all over the EU, also in Lithuania, whereas the European Commission believes that these costs in Lithuania should be more than 30% cheaper than in the rest of the EU. This is not fair.
The European Commission’s proposals for the CAP post-2020 imply that, even in the future, Lithuanian farmers might receive only 90% of the European average. The European institutions are trying to convince the Lithuanian farmers that this situation came about with the entry into force of the Treaty of Accession to the EU (2003). However, the interpretation of the Treaty raises questions about the legitimacy of its provisions. Lithuanians do not believe that the signatories of the Treaty, the Heads of all EU States, would have wanted such humiliating conditions for Lithuanian farmers, forcing them into the position of always having to ask for 100% fairness.
Lithuanian farmers hope that the PETI Committee’s careful assessment of the petition during the meeting on 22 January will inspire the Committee to take immediate steps to remedy the situation and to address the violation of European values. Farmers in Lithuania can no longer tolerate the humiliating unfairness. Without the objective assessment of their demands, they will consider further action to protect their rights and dignity.