Tangermann pulls Commission reform plans to pieces

Stefan Tangermann’s study on Direct Payments in the CAP post-2013 which was released by the European Parliament on February 11th last is a masterly deconstruction of the fragile rationale behind many of the proposals for the redesign of direct payments in the Commission’s Communication on the CAP post-2013 published last November. A powerpoint presentation of his study is also available.

The closely-argued report is divided into five sections, each of which deserves comment in its own right. In this post, I comment on the introductory section entitled The EC communication: another CAP reform?

In this opening section, Tangermann starts from the Commission’s standpoint that a further reform of the CAP is needed to prepare EU agriculture for the challenges of the future.

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French environmentalists try the rough way

This week, the French national federation of environmental NGOs, France Nature Environnement (FNE), federation of hundreds of environmental groups, launched a poster campaign that raised considerable controversy. It showed, in a rather shocking way, some (real or alledged) environmental damages caused by agriculture. Adding insult to injury, this took place a day before the annual “salon de l’agriculture”, a big national fair in Paris that attracts close to 1 million visitors and where every politician goes to cuddle farmers. All farmers’ organisations became mad, and claimed that the campaign indiscriminately accused farmers of being polluters. The French Minister of agriculture, Bruno Le Maire talked about “a scandal”.

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Sustainable intenstification

It’s the new buzzword in agriculture, confirmed by proceedings at the 2011 annual conference of the UK’s National Farmers Union, where delegates were often found to be talking about ‘how to get more from less’.

The term ‘sustainable intensification’ began to gain real currency following a report by the UK’s Royal Society, Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture. The thrust of the argument is that the old ways of increasing global food production – bring more land under the plough and adopt the high input, high output technologies of the green revolution – will not work in the 21st century.

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How the CAP budget is perceived by the Member States

Later this week Agriregionieuropa, the Italian on-line review of agricultural economics and policy, together with the Groupe de Bruges will organize a half-day seminar on “The CAP and the EU Budget” in Ancona, Italy, details here.

Franco Sotte, one of the contributors to this seminar, has produced an interesting analysis of CAP budget expenditure to be presented at an EAAE seminar on ‘Evidence-based Agricultural and Rural Policy Making’ which also takes place in Ancona following the budget seminar.

Sotte’s starting point is that much discussion of the CAP budget is based on proposed expenditure as set out in the multiannual financial framework, but that actual expenditure, as revealed in the EU’s Financial Reports on budget spending, can tell a different story.

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The challenge of reducing agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions

One of the innovations proposed in the Commission’s communication on the CAP post-2013 is that more resources in both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 should be devoted to helping agriculture to mitigate and to adapt to climate change.

“Although GHG emissions from agriculture in the EU have decreased by 20% since 1990, further efforts are possible and will be required to meet the ambitious EU energy and climate agenda. It is important to further unlock the agricultural sector’s potential to mitigate, adapt and make a positive contribution through GHG emission reduction, production efficiency measures including improvements in energy efficiency, biomass and renewable energy production, carbon sequestration and protection of carbon in soils based on innovation.

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The challenge of reducing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions

One of the innovations proposed in the Commission’s communication on the CAP post-2013 is that more resources in both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 should be devoted to helping agriculture to mitigate and to adapt to climate change.

“Although GHG emissions from agriculture in the EU have decreased by 20% since 1990, further efforts are possible and will be required to meet the ambitious EU energy and climate agenda. It is important to further unlock the agricultural sector’s potential to mitigate, adapt and make a positive contribution through GHG emission reduction, production efficiency measures including improvements in energy efficiency, biomass and renewable energy production, carbon sequestration and protection of carbon in soils based on innovation.

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Developing country impacts of the next CAP reform

I would like to use this post to draw attention to a recent paper which I wrote for the International Centre for Sustainable Trade and Development which examined how developing countries might be affected by the Commission’s proposals for CAP reform set out in the November 2010 communication. One of the positive features in the communication (and in the accompanying consultation paper for the impact assessment) is the explicit recognition that there is an obligation to consider the impacts on developing countries under the EU’s Policy Coherence for Development commitment.

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