Cyprus Presidency proposes CAP budget cut in next MFF

The first initiative in what member states hope might be the final push to get agreement on the next Multi-annnual Financial Framework by the end of this year under the Cyprus Presidency took place yesterday (30 August) when the Cypriots hosted an informal meeting of the General Affairs Council in Nicosia.
During July, the Cypriots held a series of bilateral meetings (‘confessionals’) with the 27 member states and Croatia. Based on these discussions an Issues Paper was prepared for the meeting. This paper reported briefly on the outcome of the bilateral consultations, presented the Presidency´s proposed orientations for reflection by the delegations, and included a brief reference to the next steps.

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COMAGRI CAP2020 amendments published

The amendments proposed by COMAGRI committee members are now posted on the COMAGRI website. They include those proposed by the rapporteurs in their draft reports The links to the amendments to the four main regulations are given here.
Direct payments regulation (2292 amendments).
Single CMO regulation (2227 amendments)
Rural development regulation (2127 amendments)
Horizontal regulation (769 amendments)
The next COMAGRI meeting on 3 September will exchange views on the amendments to the Commission proposal related to direct payments to farmers after 2013. The total of 2292 tabled amendments include the 111 by the rapporteur, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos. In addition, other Committees have also adopted opinions to this proposal.

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New opportunities to visualise agricultural data

As someone often asked to make presentations, visualising data through charts and graphics is an important aid for communication. The Google Public Data Explorer was launched in March 2010 with the objective to make large, public-interest datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. Some of its charts and maps animate over time, which at least is fun and may help to make changes in the world easier to understand. Embedded charts and links update automatically so in principle always showing the latest available data.
The number of data sets and public data providers has been growing, and includes the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, World Economic Forum competitiveness indicators, Eurostat, OECD and others.

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Discarding food vs. starving people – Inefficient and immoral?

Intensive discussions in Germany about discarding food in recent weeks were prompted by a University of Stuttgart study commissioned by the German Bundestag and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection.  Spiegel online said on March 13, 2012: “Europe’s waste would suffice twice to feed the world’s hungry.” This statement startled many people. Food is discarded in Europe and other prosperous countries while many people in poor countries are starving. Hence, it seems that the global hunger problem could be easily solved. People in rich countries would simply have to deal with food more responsibly.
This post critically examines the methodology of identification of food loss and the magnitude of estimated quantities and values.

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Perspectives on the CAP2020 debate

I am currently in Brazil attending the 28th International Conference of Agricultural Economists. Yesterday, there was a well-attended session on “The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy after 2013: what is happening, what is likely to happen, and why?” which was designed to provide an opportunity to explain and interpret the CAP reform debate to those attending the conference from other parts of the world. There were three presentations in the session which I link to in this post.
Giovanni Anania (University of Calabria)’s presentation first summarises the Commission’s original Oct 2011 proposals, explains the decision-making process and describes what has happened so far in the negotiations.

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COMAGRI Chair calls for maintenance of CAP budget in real terms

Paolo De Castro, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI), is also the rapporteur for the COMAGRI opinion on the Commission’s proposal for a new MFF regulation. His draft report circulated last month is a trenchant call for additional money for farmers and greater flexibility in how it can be spent.
While the rapporteur’s draft has yet to be discussed by COMAGRI, it is likely to be approved as it builds on previous Parliament reports and resolutions. The COMAGRI opinion is a set of suggestions to the Budget Committee which has the ultimate responsibility for drafting the Parliament’s view on whether to consent to the Council’s (and, ultimately, the European Council’s) decision on the MFF ceilings in the 2014-2020 period.

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How much progress has been made on agreeing the 2014-2020 MFF?

Discussions on the CAP regulations post-2013 and negotiations on a new multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for the period 2114-2020 are inextricably linked. As EU politicians and civil servants take to the beaches for their summer vacation this month, it is timely to review how far the negotiations on the MFF package have come and how close/far we are to/from an agreement. The official view (see the Council MFF website) is that we are on course to reach political agreement on the MFF package by the end of this year. This would allow legislative work to be finalised in sufficient time for the new MFF, new rules on own resources and new spending programmes to apply from 1 January 2014, but this may be more wishful thinking than a real forecast.

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What role for agriculture in rural development?

The European Commission partially justifies the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU with the CAP’s contribution to ‘viable rural communities’. Maintaining viable rural communities was one of the three strategic aims for the CAP set out in the Commission’s Communication on the CAP towards 2020 in November 2010. It was justified in the following terms:

To maintain viable rural communities, for whom farming is an important economic activity creating local employment; this delivers multiple economic, social, environmental and territorial benefits….
Agriculture is an integral part of the European economy and society. In terms of indirect effects, any significant cut back in European farming activity would in turn generate losses in GDP and jobs in linked economic sectors – notably within the agri-food supply chain, which relies on the EU primary agricultural sector for high quality, competitive and reliable raw material inputs, as well as in non-food sectors.

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Is selling 'experiences' a potential growth path for European agriculture?

Three researchers at Leuven University, Jo Swinnen, Kristine Van Herck and Thijs Vandermoortele, in a recent paper in the newly-launched BAE Bio-based and Applied Economics journal put the spotlight on the potential to base future growth in European agriculture on the willingness of consumers to pay a price premium in exchange for various ‘experiences’ (working paper version available here ). They suggest that this may be a more promising growth strategy, at least in some sectors or for some regions, than a more conventional emphasis on producing food, albeit of high quality, at low cost.
Definition of experience goods
The researchers base their proposal on two pieces of evidence.

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