Greater transparency needed in national aids to agriculture

On 2 May 2024, the European Commission adopted an amendment to the State aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework (TCTF) to allow Member States to continue to provide aid to farmers affected by persistent market disturbances up to €250,000 to end-December 2024. This followed the European Council’s endorsement in its conclusions following its meeting 17-18 April 2024 of “the proposed extension of the temporary framework on State aid and the possibility to increase the ceiling on de minimis aid for agriculture.”

Following on the European Council’s conclusions, Germany on behalf of 16 Member States informed the last AGRIFISH Council meeting in April 2024 that it was seeking an increase in the de minimis aid amounts for farmers from a total of €20,000 over three years (€25,000 in certain circumstances) to an amount of €50,000.… Read the rest

The European Council’s Strategic Agenda 2024-2029

Two defining events for the European Union take place in the next eight weeks:  the European Parliament elections take place on 6-9 June and will determine the balance of power between the various political groups with differing priorities for the future of Europe; and the European Council meeting on 27-28 June will adopt the EU’s Strategic Agenda 2024-29 as well as attempt to agree on nominees for the EU’s top jobs, including the President of the European Commission. The climate organisation E3G has produced a very nice graphic that illustrates the key steps in the political timeline for the rest of this year .… Read the rest

Introducing a tax on agricultural GHG emissions? The Danish case

In its first progress report on EU climate policy published in January 2024, the newly-established European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change noted that there is no EU-level price on emissions in agriculture/food, forestry and land use, which suffer from an overall lack of incentives to reduce emissions and increase removals. It recommended that the EU should start preparations now with a view to expanding the pricing regime of EU GHG emissions to all major emitting sectors, including agricultural/food and LULUCF, through a legislative proposal for after 2030.

In November 2023 the Commission published an exploratory study investigating ways to price GHG emissions from agricultural activities along the agri-food value chain and how this could be accompanied by providing farmers and other landowners with financial incentives for climate action.… Read the rest

Long-term structural change in EU agriculture

The reduction in the number of farms and farmers in the EU has attracted increasing attention in this EU legislative period. It has been a distinctive message of the Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, who emphasised the ongoing decline in the number of farms in his confirmation hearing before the European Parliament in October 2019 and has regularly highlighted the issue, most recently in his address to the DG AGRI Agricultural Outlook conference last December. It has also been a consistent theme in debates in the European Parliament and in statements by farm group representatives.

I have previously posted on structural change in EU agriculture.… Read the rest

Target-compatible Environmental Payments under the CAP – Economic Requirements and Legal Scope

This guest post is contributed by Prof. Dr. Rudolf Mögele and Prof. Dr. Martin Scheele. Prof. Dr. Rudolf Mögele is Honorary Professor at the University of Würzburg; previously, he was Deputy Director General at the European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, responsible for three Directorates (Legal Affairs, Audit and Assurance and Markets). Prof. Dr. Martin Scheele is Honorary Professor at the Thaer-Institute, Humboldt University, Berlin; previously, he was Head of Unit at the European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, responsible for conception and coherence of Rural Development.

Agri-environmental payments reflecting costs incurred and income forgone

In the discussion on the CAP, more and more attention is given to the importance and functioning of environmental and climate-related payments.… Read the rest

What does the Commission’s proposed 2040 climate target mean for agriculture?

On 6 February last, the Commission published its Communication Securing our future:  Europe’s 2040 climate target and path to climate neutrality by 2050 building a sustainable, just and prosperous society. The Communication proposes a Union-wide, economy-wide 2040 target reaching 90% net GHG emissions reduction compared to 1990 levelsthat will put the EU on an effective, cost-efficient, and just trajectory towards climate neutrality by 2050, as called for under the European Climate Law”.

In fact, what the Climate Law calls for is ambiguous. In recital (30), the Commission should propose a Union intermediate climate target for 2040, as appropriate, at the latest within six months of the first global stocktake carried out under the Paris Agreement and which was concluded at COP28 in Dubai in December 2023.… Read the rest

Who feeds Europe, and how much do they earn?

One of the demands in the ongoing farmer protests is for fair prices and a fair income. But how many farmers are there and what do individual farmers earn? In my previous post, I examined income trends at an aggregate level, both for the EU and for France as a Member State case study. In this post, I want to dig more behind the aggregate numbers to look at how incomes are distributed within the farming sector.

There are 9 million farms (holdings) in the EU. This figure comes from the latest Agricultural Census taken in 2020 (with figures in the inter-census years derived from the Farm Structure Surveys usually taken every three years or so).… Read the rest

What is actually happening with agricultural incomes?

Farming protests are currently taking place in several European countries. Several reasons are advanced for what is prompting these demonstrations – concerns over incomes and rising costs, the burden of additional environmental regulation, free trade agreements with third countries, the uncertainty arising from increasingly volatile weather conditions, the sense that society no longer values the work of farmers in the same way as in the past. No doubt all factors play some role, but in this post I want to dissect the farm income context. I make use of a chart that I posted on my X and LinkedIn feeds a little time ago, but a blog post allows me to give some additional background.… Read the rest

The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change 2024 progress report and agricultural emissions reduction

The newly established European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) first made its mark when delivering its advice to the Commission in July 2023 on setting the EU’s 2040 mitigation target. It recommended emission reductions of 90–95% by 2040 relative to 1990. The Commission Communication proposing its climate target will be published on 6 February 2024. It is expected to propose a reduction target in net emissions of at least 90% in line with the recommendation of the Advisory Board. This is the target to which the new Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra committed in his appointment hearing before the Parliament’s Environment Committee in October last year.… Read the rest

European Parliament polling reaches tipping point for right-of-centre majority

Latest polling results from the three institutions that provide regular updates on seat projections for the European Parliament elections in June 2024 now point for the first time to the possibility that the three right-of-centre political groups – the EPP, ID and ECR – may have a majority of seats on their own in the next Parliament.

My previous synthesis of the seat projections in May 2023 (see my blog post here) showed that the left-of-centre groups – S&D, Greens and the Left – together with Renew were still slightly ahead of the right-of-centre groups though they would have required support from the independent MEPs – the so-called Non-Inscrits – to create an overall majority.… Read the rest