Cyprus Presidency progress report on CAP reform – direct payment controversies

When the Agricultural Council meets tomorrow and Wednesday (18-19 December) it will discuss the Cyprus Presidency’s progress report on CAP reform. As the first day of the December Council is devoted to the annual bargaining over fish quotas, this report will be presented in a public session (with web streaming) on the morning of Wednesday 19th.
The progress report is drawn up by the Presidency on its own initiative and summarises the main amendments to the four main CAP regulations as well as outstanding issues which are left for the Irish Presidency to resolve. As it is highly unlikely that the Irish Presidency will revisit issues unless they are expressly identified as unresolved (in square brackets), the progress report and the accompanying amended draft regulations give us a good idea of the evolution of the Council’s thinking since the end of the Danish Presidency last June.

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Correction: Rural development funds allocation

There has been much interest in the provenance of the figures on the allocation of rural development funding between member states which I discussed in this post earlier this week. In the post I said that these were figures circulated by Herman van Rompuy during the special European Council meeting to discuss the MFF on November 22-23. Having spoken with some people who were present at the Council meeting I can now confirm that Van Rompuy did not circulate these figures at that meeting. I believe the figures were prepared by well-placed sources but they are not official figures and I regret any confusion which my incorrect assignation may have caused.

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Understanding the 'active farmer' debate

When COMAGRI publish their compromise amendments to the Commission’s draft revised CAP regulations, one issue to look out for will be the proposed definition of active farmers. This has been a difficult area in the direct payments regulation dossier because the issue of how to define an active farmer goes to the heart of the decoupled nature of the SPS system.
The item is on the reform agenda because of repeated criticisms of the Court of Auditors, first in the context of its report on SPS implementation and more recently in its report on SAPS implementation in the new member states.

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Rural development funds allocation hits new member states

Update 15 December 2012: I have now learned that I was incorrect to attribute the table of allocation of rural development funds to Van Rompuy in this post and these figures were not circulated at the European Council meeting as I suggest. I regret the error but I have left the post stand unedited as an example of one possible distribution of funds being discussed in the negotiations. But as of this date no official proposed allocation has been made, see fuller discussion here)
In previous posts I had wondered how member states were expected to come to an agreement on the MFF for the 2014-2020 period at the special European Council meeting at the end of the November without being aware of the proposed allocation of Pillar 2 rural development funds under the CAP.

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EIP: has the role of knowledge in agriculture been rediscovered?

It is believed by experts and also somehow confirmed by statistics that the European agriculture is losing a battle with international competition in the field of food production. Although the situation is by no means identical everywhere in Europe, an objective observer cannot help concluding that the European agro-food sector has been stagnating; even the Common agricultural policy itself is based on the assumption that agriculture “needs to get” income supports because it is uncompetitive. In some Member States and sectors, substantial direct payments under the Pillar I of CAP even exceed the level of generated income on the market. Thus, it no longer means only a compensation for the lack of competitiveness, but also gives a wrong signal to producers and has negative development consequences.

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