European farm unions Copa and Cogeca have urged EU Farm Ministers for a 'real simplification' of the Common Agricultural Policy in the future, with measures to attract young blood to the sector.

Speaking in Bulgaria, Copa vice-president Joe Healy warned: “The EU Commission’s proposals do not amount to simplification. We are very concerned about the impact of them.

"We call on Ministers to ensure that the next CAP provides simpler and clearer rules and policy tools for farmers and cooperatives to use. It must also remain a truly common policy. We cannot accept any re-nationalization of the CAP.”

Mr Healy said that, with farmers’ incomes at 40% of average earnings, moves to ring-fence 'desperately needed' direct support cash towards climate change objectives ere also not acceptable.

"This comes on top of pressure from agricultural concessions being negotiated by the EU in the bilateral trade negotiations," he added.

Copa and Cogeca nevertheless welcomed the Commission's move to put more focus on smart farming and on measures to help farmers better manage risk. In this respect, broadband access was vital so that farmers and cooperatives could make use of the new technologies.

"It will also make it more attractive for young people to join the sector. Research and innovation and advisory services driven by farmers’ needs must also be a priority," he added.