Commission multiannual budget plan protects the CAP budget

The publication of the Commission’s proposals for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 brings a little more clarity to its thinking on the likely shape of CAP reform post 2013.

Overall, the proposal represents a slight increase in the total size of the EU budget in the next programming period, by between 3.5% and 5% depending on whether one looks at commitment or payment appropriations. While a number of member states have sought a total freeze in real terms, this still represents a much more modest increase than that proposed recently by the European Parliament (which was a 5 percentage point increase in the share of the EU budget in GNI).

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Further risk management toolkit for EU agriculture not warranted

A concern about increased price volatility facing EU farmers marks virtually every statement on the challenges facing the CAP post 2013, with the presumption that new instruments to address this challenge should be part of the CAP reform proposals. Income insurance and ‘contractualisation’ (greater use of written contracts and new collective bargaining powers for producer organisations) are the new tools most often mentioned in this context. A new report by Stefan Tangermann published by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development punctures these claims and flatly concludes that intensified risk management instruments for EU agriculture are not warranted.

His argument is based around five points.

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What has been happening to the numbers undernourished during the food crisis?

Much of the recent discourse around CAP reform emphasises that European agriculture has an important role to play in the future in contributing to global food security. This concern has been driven by the growing awareness of the challenge of increasing global food production in a sustainable way, which in turn was underlined by the impact of the two recent food price spikes (2007-08 and 2010-11) on global hunger.

Estimates by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the World Bank concluded that between 75 million and 160 million people were thrown into hunger or poverty as a result of the 2007/08 global food crisis.

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European Parliament displays little courage in its report on the future EU budget

This month (June 2011) sees the real start of the negotiations on the future EU budget framework for the coming years. On Thursday 9 June the Parliament will vote on the opinion prepared by its Policy Challenges Committee setting out its views on the size, structure and duration of the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF).

On 29 June the Commission will publish two legislative proposals, one on future own resources and the other on the MFF. These will be accompanied by impact analyses including of potential new own resources. This will be the first real indication of the Commission’s thinking on the future resources to be made available for the Common Agricultural Policy, although many months of hard negotiating lie ahead before an eventual agreement is reached.

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Paying for the EHEC food safety crisis

The enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) ‘cucumber’ crisis raises many questions. The most immediate is the public health dimension. The scale of the outbreak has been described as unprecedented by public health officials and the cause of the outbreak has yet to be localised. To date there have been 18 fatalities, all but one in Germany, and at least 499 people have haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening kidney disease (see update from a German spokesman here). For comparison, according to the University of Edinburgh National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Research & Surveillance Unit, 209 people have died in the EU (168 in the UK alone) from vCJD (‘mad cow disease’) since 1990.

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