The EC will look to food security, territorial balance and concerns about the environment as its guiding principles when it reforms the Common Agricultural Policy, a leaked discussion paper has revealed.

The need to safeguard member states' ability to deliver food security "in time of crisis" had been highlighted by recent price volatility on the world markets, said the EC in a paper.

To improve resilience and competitiveness in a more volatile world market while safeguarding employment and "maintaining the social fabric of rural areas", particularly in new member states, the EC proposed three policy options, which include a more "targeted" payment system that would cut back on ­single-farm payments in ­favour of an area-based ­approach.

The National Farmers' Union has urged the UK government to protect single-farm payments.