Europe’s hens to have a happier New Year

From tomorrow, 1st January 2012, life for the EU’s laying hens becomes a little better when EU Council Directive 1999/74/EC on the Welfare of Laying Hens comes into force. Under the Directive the use of conventional cages (commonly referred to as ‘battery cages’) for laying hens will be prohibited in the EU as will the marketing of eggs from hens housed in such cages.

The ban on battery cages follows the EU-wide ban on veal crates for calves which came into force in 2007, and will be followed next year by a ban on sow stalls and tethers which comes into force across the EU on 1 January 2013.

Read the rest

Environment Ministers fail to endorse Commission's greening proposals

The refusal of the Environment Council meeting on 19 December last to endorse the Commission’s greening proposals in its legislative proposals for CAP reform has been interpreted as a victory for agricultural interests attempting to water down the greening element in these proposals. But this interpretation may underestimate the extent to which there is genuine doubt about the effectiveness and environmental value of the measures that the Commission proposes.
The biodiversity challenge

The Environment Council was meeting to adopt conclusions on the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. In March 2010, EU leaders recognised that the 2010 biodiversity target would not be met despite successes such as establishing Natura 2000, the world’s largest network of protected areas.

Read the rest

Environment Ministers fail to endorse Commission’s greening proposals

The refusal of the Environment Council meeting on 19 December last to endorse the Commission’s greening proposals in its legislative proposals for CAP reform has been interpreted as a victory for agricultural interests attempting to water down the greening element in these proposals. But this interpretation may underestimate the extent to which there is genuine doubt about the effectiveness and environmental value of the measures that the Commission proposes.

The biodiversity challenge

The Environment Council was meeting to adopt conclusions on the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. In March 2010, EU leaders recognised that the 2010 biodiversity target would not be met despite successes such as establishing Natura 2000, the world’s largest network of protected areas.

Read the rest

The challenge of moving to the regional model

The Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013 contain two measures to harmonise direct payments per ha across farms: (i) a move to more uniform payments per hectare across member states, and (ii) a move to more uniform payments per hectare within member states by moving from the historical to the regional model of payments. While both measures are prompted by the desire to have a more uniform distribution of payments per hectare across EU farms, it is useful to keep the measures distinct. For that reason, it is helpful to talk about the convergence of payments across member states, and the flattening of payments within a member state.

Read the rest

CAP reform conference December 19th 2011

The Commission in co-operation with the Parliament is organising a conference ‘CAP reform through analytical lenses‘ to provide a forum for discussion on the CAP reform legislative proposals with researchers and scientists. The event will take place during the meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural development to be held in Brussels on Monday 19 December and will be web-streamed. The agenda for the meeting is here.

This post is written by Alan Matthews

Read the rest

Agreeing the allocation of CAP funds between Member States

The great bulk of EU CAP expenditure (the Heading 2 ‘Preservation and management of natural resources’ in the 2007-2013 Multi-annual Financial Framework) is allocated to member states in the form of national ceilings under Pillar 1 and national breakdowns under Pillar 2. One of the reasons for the success of the Fischler and Health Check reforms was that they did not fundamentally alter the allocation of member state receipts.

Redistribution a central issue in CAP 2020 negotiations

The distribution of CAP funds between states is now a central issue in the CAP negotiations given the commitment to bring about greater convergence in the level of entitlement payments per hectare.

Read the rest

What Durban means for EU agriculture

Agriculture, uniquely, has a dual role in climate change discussions. It faces significant adaptation challenges as global temperatures rise and there is a greater frequency of extreme weather events. But it also has the potential to help mitigate climate change through reducing emissions and removing them through carbon sequestration.

In this post, I ask what the implications of the outcome of the Durban UNFCCC climate conference might be for EU farming and agricultural policy.

Agriculture and EU emission targets – where we stand

Agriculture is included in the accounting for the EU’s Kyoto Protocol emission reduction targets for the period 2008-2012 and in the Climate and Energy Package (CEP) 2020 target of a 20% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions over the 1990 base year.

Read the rest

Launch of E-learning CAP course

For those interested in learning more about the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, a new online learning course on the CAP has just been launched by Groupe de Bruges in association with Associazione Alessandro Bartola/Agriregionieuropa and SPERA (Interuniversity Center on Rural, Environmental, Economic Policies) led from the University of Ancona. The course consists of eight modules and participation is free [Disclaimer: I have contributed one of the modules on the CAP in an international context]. Each module consists of one or two powerpoint lessons lasting around 40 minutes, and there are short entry and exit tests to help students assess their knowledge.

Read the rest

Agricultural consequences of the eurozone crisis

The consequences of the decisions at the fateful Brussels summit on 9 December 2011 will take time to assess. Whether leaders did enough to calm the markets and allow eurozone governments to refinance their enormous debts next year at reasonable interest rates will be known relatively quickly. Many commentators feel that financial markets will not be impressed, and that the EU is facing into a prolonged depression in which the break-up of the eurozone is a real possibility.

The significance of the institutional changes implied by the creation of a new inner core of EU member states pledged to achieve greater fiscal integration will only be known over a longer time span.

Read the rest

New CAP income payment could produce new policy failures

The new CAP reform has been promoted by its creators as being more target-oriented and better adjusted to what the public expects from the funds invested in agriculture. To meet these expectations and particularly to preserve as much funds for agriculture as possible, the first pillar direct payments have been veiled under various new support schemes. The most important ones are the basic payment scheme and its “greening” component. Let us focus on the basic payment, which will take up from 43 to 55 per cent of the direct payments envelope.

Politics trumps economics

The aim of the basic payment is unify the payments among the Member States and at the same time provide a kind of income support to agriculture.

Read the rest