Archive | November, 2008

French CAP plan nixed by Council

Today’s meeting of the Agriculture Council witnessed the frequently irrestistable force of French attachment to the Common Agricultural Policy run into the occasionally immovable object of UK, Swedish and new member state desire for change. The result was that a much-trumpeted French vision paper for the future of the CAP beyond 2013 was roundly rejected. [...]

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20:20 vision

With the health check done and dusted, European agriculture policymakers turn to the bigger questions of the future of the CAP after the current EU financial perspective, which ends in 2013. Ever since the Chirac-Schroeder deal of 2002, which fixed the overall CAP budget and allocation of direct payments for the subsequent eleven years, there [...]

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Tangermann’s parting shot

Later today Stefan Tangermann will step down as Director of the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, a post he has held since 2002. The OECD has a strict ‘retire-at-65′ rule and it may surprise some to learn that the tall and spritely German, invariably sporting one of his trademark bow-ties, has reached such an age. [...]

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Final health check compromise text

This detailed document does not yet appear to have been published on the Council or Commission websites. But you can download it here in Word format.

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A little light relief

It’s Friday afternoon and it’s been a long week. What better to calm the nerves after all the excitement of the health check than to take a break by spending a few minutes playing a new online video game from the European Commission? It’s called Farmland: The Game and in it you will have to [...]

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Commission did suppress cross compliance report, says MEP

A week ago I asked why a unfavourable report on cross compliance by the Court of Auditors, adopted on 4 November, has not yet been published. I wondered whether it had anything to do with the imminent end game of the health check negotiations, which featured propoals to further weaken cross compliance requirements. Turns out [...]

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Podcast: the inside story on the health check deal

Roger Waite, Editor of Agra Facts, gives the inside story on the all-night negotiations that led to a deal early this morning (20th November) on the health check of the CAP. He explains how the negotiations were handled, that the big winners were Italy, Germany and France and that at key moments there was intervention [...]

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So who voted for what?

Unanimity, like pregnancy, has a binary quality. A decision can’t be ‘virtually unanimous’. But this is just how French farms minister Michel Barnier described this morning’s final compromise agreement on the health check package. So which of the EU 27 member states were unable to acquiesce in the deal? My sources tell Roger Waite tells [...]

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Parliament’s health check recriminations begin

With the ink barely dry on the Council of Ministers’ final compromise deal on the health check, leading members of the European Parliament are laying into each other after a day of chaotic voting on the Parliament’s approach to the CAP. In a podcast interview yesterday, Paulo Casaca MEP (Socialist Group) told me that the [...]

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+++ Health Check deal +++

European farm ministers have reached a deal on the CAP health check. The principal points are these: * Five annual milk quota increases of 1% each with effect from April 2009, prior to total abolition of the quota system as from April 1 2015 (unchanged from Commission proposal). As is now traditional, when it comes [...]

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Podcast: Paulo Casaca MEP on the chaos of Parliament’s farm policy

In the second of today’s podcasts from the European Parliament, Paulo Casaca MEP gives his immediate reaction to a series of votes on the CAP health check that saw many MEPs break ranks from agreed party lines, evidence of the passions that are aroused when the Parliament debates food and farming. He argues that the [...]

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Podcast: Neil Parish MEP on today’s health check vote

The European Parliament today votes on the CAP health check. I spoke with Neil Parish MEP (pictured right), who represents the largely rural constituency of South West England and is a farmer himself. He also chairs the Parliament’s agriculture committee, which drafted the report that is being voted on today. Perhaps unusually for a committee [...]

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The methane menace and hamburgers

A paper on the contribution to climate change of livestock methane emissions has found that the problem is likely to get worse as global demand for meat and dairy products increases. Dr Andy Thorpe, an economist at Portsmouth University, found that a single herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent [...]

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Fischer Boel in the European Parliament

Mariann Fischer Boel attended the plenary debate on the CAP health check in the European Parliament earlier today. There is little to report from the debate – most of the contributions were bland and reflected the general desire of the European Parliament to water down the Commission’s reform proposals. Neil Parish MEP called for the [...]

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European Parliament defends farm fat cats

If Europe’s wealthiest landowners, from the Duke of Westminster in the UK to Prince Albert of Monaco to the fabulously-named Johannes Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d’Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein (aka Hans Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein) were having sleepless nights over the future of their six and seven figure annual handouts [...]

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Cross compliance: is the Court of Auditors being gagged?

As Wyn Grant has observed, the Court of Auditors annual report on the 2007 EU budget published on Monday identified a clutch of weaknesses associated with the controls on spending on EU farm policies. The Court observes that “Some 20 percent of payments audited at final beneficiary level and revealed incorrect payments, a limited number [...]

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Commissioner Grybauskaité: no future for direct payments

A major conference entitled “Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe” was held yesterday in Brussels, marking the end of the consultation phase of the ‘no taboos’ review of the future of the EU budget led by Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaité. The former Lithuanian finance minister presented the results of the consultation process that received more than [...]

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Auditors’ report makes for sobering reading

The very complexity of the CAP opens it to scams of various kinds. These may not be fraudulent in the criminal sense of the term (although such instances have occurred) but they do represent a use of loopholes to divert public money to line the pockets of individuals.

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Podcast: Roger Waite on the health check end-game

As we head into the end-game of the health check, Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts, analyses the big five outstanding issues: 1. Dairy quotas – how to ensure a smooth transition to a free market in milk within the EU. 2. Article 68 – targeted policies or recoupling via the backdoor? 3. Modulation – [...]

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Commission perspectives on agriculture and rural development

For most of its life, DG Agriculture has been concerned with managing agricultural markets, increasing farm productivity and guaranteeing European farmers a good income. In the 1990s, under the leadership of Commissioner Franz Fischler, it began paying more attention to broader economic development and environmental concerns in rural areas. This new interest led to the [...]

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