The EU spends around 30 billion euros each year on the single payment scheme, by far the largest of the myriad schemes and programmes that together comprise the 54 billion euro budget of the Common Agriculture Policy. The scheme was first introduced in 2005 but it is hard to see it surviving in its current form beyond the end of the EU’s 2007-13 financial perspective. Here are five reasons why the single payment scheme is not politically sustainable. Five more will follow tomorrow.
It’s not uncommon to see reports of people queueing up all night for the latest iPhone, the next Star Wars movie or tickets to watch tennis at Wimbledon. But as I write, farmers in Northern Ireland are queueing outside for farm subsidies. The government in Northern Ireland has decided to hand out farm subsidies ‘on a first come first served’ basis. The decision was taken because this particular funding package is worth just £6 million and is capped at £5,000 per application so only 1,200 farmers stand to benefit. Farmers are to be sleeping out in the cold to ensure they get a good place in the line.
The resort to intervention buying and export refunds in the dairy sector has been predictably bad PR for the EU, especially in the southern hemisphere. But a more fundamental question is, can these tired old policy instruments work any magic in a deep economic crisis?