Birdlife : CAP reform is dead

Ariel Brunner is Head of EU Policy at Birdlife Europe

Earlier this month saw the European Council give the final rubberstamp to the reform of the CAP. It is now time to assess what has happened to Commissioner Ciolos’ promise of a green, fair and simple policy. Unfortunately any remotely honest evaluation of the new CAP must acknowledge that the original promise has been betrayed by Member States and the European Parliament.
In terms of the use of public money, we see a CAP where targeted Pillar 2 measures have been disproportionally reduced, while the bulk of the budget remains in completely untargeted, entitlement based payments that are not linked to any real policy objective.

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The Ciolos CAP reform

The CAP2013 reform ended with a whimper yesterday as the Agricultural and Fisheries Council adopted the revised regulations as an A item without discussion following a first reading agreement with the European Parliament. Today the President of the Council ratified the documents in the presence of the ministers from Denmark, Cyprus and Ireland and the vice-minister from Poland. This concludes the legislative process for the 2013 CAP reform. For the first time, we now have a clean version of the four main regulations, as follows.
Direct payment regulation
Rural development regulation
Horizontal regulation
Single CMO regulation
The extended Council press release announcing the Council’s approval has a useful annex summarising the main changes which will be introduced by this reform.

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Changing patterns of global agrifood trade

Publication of the latest United Nations International Trade Statistics Yearbook with comparative figures from 2000 to 2012 gives an insight into the important structural changes in patterns of global agrifood trade over the past decade. The figures underline the way in which developing countries have become the dynamic motor behind agrifood trade flows, a finding which has relevance when discussing the coverage of WTO trade rules.
During this period agrifood trade maintained and even increased its share of total merchandise exports. It share was 6.1% in 2000, but increased to 7.0% in 2009 following the sharp rise in global food prices in 2008-09.

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EU agriculture: impacts of climate change

Using the CAP to promote a climate-friendly agriculture in Europe (or, as it is increasingly called, a climate–smart agriculture) was one of the stated objectives of the Commission in putting forward its CAP reform proposals in 2011. Agriculture both has a mitigation role to play in climate policy, and must also adapt to climate change.
Regarding mitigation, the Europe 2020 Strategy establishes the reduction of greenhouse gases as one of the EU’s five headline targets. Agriculture is both an emitter and a sink of greenhouse gases, and agricultural soils contain a large stock of terrestrial carbon in the form of soil organic matter.

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Does national spending on agriculture follow a different path to the CAP?

In evaluating the pattern of budget transfers to agriculture, most of the focus is on the transfers through the EU budget. The negotiations on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) were closely followed because of their importance for the size of the CAP budget in the overall EU budget in the coming programming period.
However, in addition to EU transfers farmers also receive significant transfers from member state budgets. These take two forms: member state co-financing of CAP Pillar 2 expenditures (plus some allowed top-ups of Pillar 1 payments), and state aids paid by member states to their farmers. A proportion, but not all, of agricultural state aid represents member state spending on measures equivalent to rural development measures which would be eligible for funding under Pillar 2 if the national allocations were bigger, but which are funded instead by national exchequers.

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