Russian WTO accession by end year?

An announcement last week by Karel de Gucht, the EU Trade Commissioner, that the EU and Russia had struck a deal on remaining outstanding bilateral issues in negotiating Russia’s accession to WTO membership raises the prospect that this economic giant could become a WTO member by the end of this year.

Russia and the WTO

Russia first made its application in 1993 so has been negotiating its accession now for 18 years, by far the longest of any accession process by a WTO applicant. This reflects in part the country’s economic size (it is the sixth largest economy in the world on a PPP basis).

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Farmers and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

A row has broken out over the Commission’s proposal to use the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in the next financial perspectives period to help farmers who might be adversely affected by the conclusion of EU trade agreements. According to a report in Europolitics, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is opposed to farmers being included in the list of potential beneficiaries of the Fund. The union confederation wants the funds reserved for workers, and argues that farmers should be helped under Pillar 2 of the CAP.

Background

In the new EGF regulation the Commission has proposed that its scope should be extended to provide transitory support to farmers to facilitate their adaptation to a new market situation resulting from the conclusion by the Union of trade agreements affecting agricultural products.

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On the justification for direct payments

Despite the numerous critiques of direct payments expressed in the vast majority of the professional literature analysing the future of the CAP, the European Commission seems to maintain them in the future. In order to justify the decision, the EC has found out a new slogan for saving this ineffective policy instrument –  the provision of public goods.

However, this is not the first time in history when the Commission searches for justifications in order to save direct payments. Founded in 1992, the original idea behind direct payments was to compensate farmers for the price cuts of the MacSharry reform. This can be treated as an economic justification for the instrument as farmers, at least to the Commission, will be better off with this support than without them.

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The legislative timeline for CAP reform

The publication of the Commission’s legislative package for CAP reform is merely the starting gun for the EU’s legislative procedure to debate the regulations before they can take effect. The regulations now enter the co-decision procedure involving the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament (EP).

In an article this week in the Irish farming press, Mairead McGuinness set out the timeline as seen from the Parliament’s perspective. Mairead McGuiness is the EPP Group shadow rapporteur for the direct payments report contained within the legislative package, and thus centrally involved in formulating the EP’s position.

According to McGuinness, the current timeline envisages that draft reports will be prepared for consideration by the Agriculture Committee by April next, with a vote in Committee taking place in September on the changes proposed by MEPs.

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Updated analysis of Commission legislative proposals

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development has now published the final updated version of my paper looking at the trade and development implications of the Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013. Apart from making some corrections to the preliminary version, it takes account of the main changes in the Commission’s proposals on October 12th last compared to what was in the heavily-leaked drafts as well as the full impact assessments released at the same time.

The main changes include:
– The replacement of the firm commitment to have a uniform payment per hectare across all land and member states by 2029 in the regulation itself, to an aspirational commitment in the preambular material that member states will work towards this goal in the next financial perspectives period.

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Analysis of the Commission's legislative proposals due tomorrow Wednesday 12 October

Tomorrow the Commission will unveil its legislative proposals for the future CAP regulations after 2013. As readers of this blog will be aware, the proposals have been widely flagged in various leaked draft versions. But it will be fascinating to see to what extent, if at all, the the final version will take account of the intense lobbying of the Commission by member states in recent weeks.
The International Centre for Sustainable Trade and Development (ICSTD) has just published a draft paper that I have written which attempts to summarise the likely changes to be announced tomorrow and to assess their implications for trade and development.

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Analysis of the Commission’s legislative proposals due tomorrow Wednesday 12 October

Tomorrow the Commission will unveil its legislative proposals for the future CAP regulations after 2013. As readers of this blog will be aware, the proposals have been widely flagged in various leaked draft versions. But it will be fascinating to see to what extent, if at all, the the final version will take account of the intense lobbying of the Commission by member states in recent weeks.

The International Centre for Sustainable Trade and Development (ICSTD) has just published a draft paper that I have written which attempts to summarise the likely changes to be announced tomorrow and to assess their implications for trade and development.

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The future role for the European Innovation Partnership for agricultural productivity and sustainability

One of the new initiatives to be announced by the Commission when it publishes its legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013 on Wednesday 12 October next will be the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for agricultural productivity and sustainability. The Commission attaches great importance to this instrument to address lagging productivity growth in agriculture and to contribute to increased innovation.

To date, there is relatively little information on how this new instrument would work and what it will mean. The Commission is still in the process of internal reflection to define the objectives and governance of the EIP. However, some light is thrown on the Commission’s thinking in the evidence of Commissioners Ciolos and Geoghegan-Quinn to a recent UK House of Lords inquiry into Innovation in EU agriculture.

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