Mr Oettinger’s budget arithmetic

Two events in the previous week give us a much clearer idea of what to expect for the CAP budget in the Commission’s proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) at the end of May. Of course, the Commission’s proposal is only the start of the MFF negotiations. The MFF must ultimately be agreed unanimously by all Member States and (for the own resources decision) by their national parliaments, and also gain the approval of a majority in the European Parliament. Much can happen between the initial proposal and the final Council conclusions.

The two events in the previous week were Budget Commissioner Oettinger’s speech setting out his approach to the MFF proposal at a meeting in Brussels organised by the European Political Strategy Centre, the Commission’s in-house think tank, and his comments following the first presentation of his ideas to the Commission College.

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EU farm incomes in 2017

Eurostat has produced its first estimate of agricultural income in 2017, and it makes interesting reading. Both real agricultural income per Annual Work Unit (called indicator A in Eurostat terminology) as well as real agricultural entrepreneurial income per unpaid Annual Work Unit (Indicator B in Eurostat terminology) reached record levels (see chart below). This is surely something to be welcomed, even if COPA-COGECA did not issue a press release to draw attention to this fact. Across the EU as a whole, income from farming when divided among those working in the industry is in a robust state, even if the regular grumbling from industry representatives sometimes gives the opposite impression.

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Rethinking EU budget spending on agriculture in the next MFF

This post reproduces my key-note statement to the session More efficient use of scarce financial resources – An efficient Common Agriculture Policy and focussed structural Funds at the European Political Strategy Centre High Level Conference ‘Shaping our Future: Designing the next Multiannual Financial Framework’ which was held 8-9 January 2018 in Brussels. The delivered version was slightly abbreviated for time reasons.

The session was intended to reflect on more efficient use of scarce financial resources in the EU budget’s two largest spending categories – agricultural policy and structural funds. I expected my fellow panellists to have a lot to say about structural funds, so my presentation focused on agricultural policy.

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