The sacred cow of the two pillars

Latest proposals of the European Commission seems to maintain the two-pillar structure of the CAP, in which Pillar 1 finances direct payments as well as market measures while Pillar 2 funds rural development measures. The clear separation of objectives between the two Pillars is now somewhat blurred by the latest proposals. It seems that Pillar 1 funds can be used for measures traditionally addressed by rural development funds (e.g. payments to the provision of public goods), creating the need for raising Pillar 1 funds partly by a backward modulation (i.e. transferring funds from Pillar 2 to Pillar 1). This argument stands on dubious theoretical grounds as each and every communication since 2000 was in favour of transferring funds to rural development and easing the currently unequal financial distribution between the pillars.

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Public goods measurement concerns in the CAP post 2013

The term public goods first entered into the CAP debate in 2007 when it was used in an agricultural context by the environmental NGOs. Since then it has gradually infiltrated the mainstream policy debate appearing in many papers and speeches from research papers to the highest level of decision making. The need for securing mainly environmental public goods in the future CAP is echoed by an increasing number of stakeholders, rallying behind the slogan of “Public Money for Public Goods”, developed by Zahrnt (2009). Becoming the primary focus, the concept is now used more generally to refer to any sort of public benefit from agriculture, thereby justifying the need for public support, as expressed by various stakeholders.

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EFAs v. Set-Aside

Earlier this week, at the European Parliament, I moderated a seminar on the Commission’s proposal for ‘greening’ measures for the direct payments of the CAP, with a particular emphasis on the plans for ecological focus areas. The event was organised by the European Environmental Bureau and hosted by Austrian MEP Karin Kadenbach, who sits on the Parliament’s environment committee.

To qualify for the 30 per cent of the direct payments budget that the Commission has earmarked for ‘greening’ the CAP, farmers with grazing livestock will be required to preserve permanent grasslands, arable farmers will be required to cultivate a diversity of (three) crops and practice basic crop rotation.

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New Commission study on impacts of Doha Round

The G20 Cannes Summit, despite being side-tracked by the continuing eurozone crisis, did address other issues of importance to the global economy. In the section of its final communiqué on trade, the heads of state reaffirmed their ritualistic commitment to the Doha Round mandate. However, they went on to note that “It is clear that we will not complete the [Doha Development Agenda] if we continue to conduct negotiations as we have in the past.” Instead, they called for “fresh, credible approaches to furthering negotiations, including the issues of concern for Least Developed Countries and, where they can bear fruit, the remaining elements of the DDA mandate” to be pursued in 2012.

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'Greening' – a return to compulsory set-aside

Among others, the latest proposal of the EU Commission aims to green the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). One of the proposed measures looks very much like a new ‘set-aside’ programme. Generally, the programme stipulates that individual farmers have to set aside seven per cent of their arable land. Some exceptions are allowed in case individual farmers already produce environmentally friendly, e.g. organic production, or have already contributed to desired environmental effects. As the proposal is not yet put into legal form, it may be worthwhile to discuss the new measure’s rationale, to evaluate its associated costs and effects on incentive compatibility and to look for alternatives for achieving the objectives.

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‘Greening’ – a return to compulsory set-aside

Among others, the latest proposal of the EU Commission aims to green the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). One of the proposed measures looks very much like a new ‘set-aside’ programme. Generally, the programme stipulates that individual farmers have to set aside seven per cent of their arable land. Some exceptions are allowed in case individual farmers already produce environmentally friendly, e.g. organic production, or have already contributed to desired environmental effects. As the proposal is not yet put into legal form, it may be worthwhile to discuss the new measure’s rationale, to evaluate its associated costs and effects on incentive compatibility and to look for alternatives for achieving the objectives.

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