EU agricultural policy: great potential for budget savings

This guest post is written by Professor Ulrich Koester, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Market Analysis and Policy at the University of Kiel. It originally appeared in German as an opinion piece in the periodical Wirtschaftsdienst 8/2011.

Discussions on the EU medium-term financial framework 2014-2020 are currently taking place in Brussels. Of particular significance are the expenditures for agricultural and fisheries policies. These policies account until now for €58 billion of expenditure or 47.4% of the EU budget. According to the draft proposal this share should reduce to 39% by 2010. It is rather shocking that, at a time when budget resources are scarce, and in light of the poor experiences to date with the current instruments and the results of numerous scientific and internal EU analyses, that it appears that the volume and structure of EU expenditure will not be greatly changed.

Read the rest

Seeds of a conflict

As a follow up to my earlier post on the complexities that may hold up the signing of the extended EU-Moroccan Free Trade Agreement, Korski and Leonard from the European Council on Foreign Relations in an op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune today outline conflicting issues at play in EU-Egypt agricultural trade relations. The issue here arises from the e.coli outbreaks due to bean sprouts in northern Germany and Bordeaux earlier this year that killed at least 48 people and hospitalised hundreds more.

Apparently, investigators from the European Food Safety Authority found a link between these outbreaks and imported Egyptian fenugreek seeds used to produce bean sprouts.

Read the rest

Life after the Doha Round

Yet another post on a trade topic, but this is justified by the news from Geneva last week where the WTO Doha Round’s attempts to hang on to life become fainter and weaker. Pascal Lamy was in sombre mood at the meeting:

What we are seeing today is the paralysis in the negotiating function of the WTO, whether it is on market access or on the rule- making.  What we are facing is the inability of the WTO to adapt and adjust to emerging global trade priorities, those you cannot solve through bilateral deals.

While no government has yet declared that the Doha Round is dead, it is clearly on life support.

Read the rest