1. Executive Summary
Scotland did not vote for Brexit, but we now have to deal with its consequences. The Scottish Government's preferred option is for the whole of the UK to remain in the EU. Failing that, our consistent position has been that staying in the European Single Market and Customs Union is essential for Scotland's economy, particularly our rural economy. That would enable us to continue to benefit from the four freedoms, freedom of movement of goods, services, people and capital, and from a wide range of environmental, animal, plant and food standards, but it would mean we are outside the Common Agriculture Policy.
Despite the uncertainty from the UK Government on funding and powers, time is running out and we need to develop a new rural support policy for Scotland.
This consultation marks the start of that process. It forms part of the civic conversation being led by the National Council of Rural Advisors, over the summer, to start the debate on a comprehensive new approach to supporting the rural economy to achieve world class agricultural and environmental outcomes. The options set out here should be considered alongside the recommendations of the CAP Greening Group, the Agriculture Champions and the National Council of Rural Advisors (Annex A).
This paper focuses on:
- what might be done to provide stability in the period immediately after Scotland might have to leave the EU in 2019
- short term simplifications that could help current claimants of CAP-related support and improve or enhance the delivery of policy goals
- how best to support and integrate agriculture into the broader rural economy over the transition period and beyond
- how pilot projects might be developed and used to test different approaches.
Views are sought across a wide range of issues which include:
- creating a defined transition period of approximately five years to 2024 with minimal changes to current funding and payments in the earliest stages
- how to reduce the administrative burden on a range of steps in the payments system and process, including inspections, mapping and scheme rules
- at what level to cap payments to release funds to test new policy priorities
- how to protect and enhance long term future support for Less Favoured Areas
- shifting, where possible, from a strict compliance approach towards combining delivery of outcomes with support
- proposals to streamline and synergise some of the Pillar II schemes
- where we should be piloting new approaches, expanding on activity we want to continue into the future and testing fresh ideas and innovation.