Why farm numbers must continue to fall

Commissioner-designate Wojciechowski highlighted what he called the “shocking information” on the decline in the number of European farms in his opening statement during his hearing in front of the AGRI Committee in the European Parliament earlier this week.

I presented the shocking information – shocking at least for some audiences – that during one decade, from 2005 to 2015, we lost four million farms in the European Union. The number of farms was almost 15 million, and after a decade there were fewer than 11 million farms. If we lose four million per decade, it is 400 000 per year.

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Agriculture Commissioner-designate Wojciechowski stumbles at hearing

One piece of advice given to everyone who goes for a job interview is that you need to prepare. Commissioner-designate for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski seemed to have done limited preparation for his hearing in front of COMAGRI (with COMENVI as an associated committee) in the European Parliament earlier this week and failed to impress. As a result, he has been asked to respond to a fresh set of questions submitted by the Committee before it decides if it is willing to support his candidacy.

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Impact of the CAP on developing countries

The impact of the CAP on developing countries continues to be a topic of great interest to many people, particularly in the context of the EU’s commitment to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Together with Rossella Soldi, I recently completed a report evaluating the impact of the EU’s current agricultural policy on the agriculture of developing countries which was commissioned by the European Committee of the Regions and which is now available on its website.

The terms of reference for the study asked for an evaluation of the impact of current CAP subsidies on the price of EU food produced and exported to developing countries.

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The start of von der Leyen’s Commission Presidency

Ursula von der Leyen, then the German Minister for Defence, emerged as the surprise choice of the European Council leaders at their meeting on 21 June 2019 following their inability to agree on any of the Spitzenkandidaten. After an amazingly short period to read herself into the brief, she presented her Political Guidelines for the new Commission and summarised these in her oral presentation as part of her confirmation hearings in front of the European Parliament on July 16 2019.

Leaders of four of the Parliament’s political groups (the EPP, S&D, Renew Europe and the Greens, sometimes called the pro-EU parties to distinguish them from the more Eurosceptic parties both on the left and on the right – it is a handy tag though I am not comfortable using that description which is inherently exclusionary) had attempted to come together and, for the first time, to forge a common political platform and a common candidate for the Commission Presidency.

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Developing CAP Strategic Plans

Brussels returns to business this week, but slowly from the perspective of deciding on the shape of the CAP post 2020. COMAGRI is scheduled to meet on Wednesday 4 September to discuss the Union’s general budget for the financial year 2020. Also on the agenda is an item “Approval of recommendations from AGRI Coordinators” which may reveal how the Committee plans to proceed with the CAP post 2020 files.

The choices range from endorsing the work of the previous Committee and forwarding its Reports to the new Parliament for adoption, to starting afresh to re-examine the Commission’s proposal. According to Euractiv reporting in late July, the AGRI Coordinators are leaning towards a middle way, resubmitting the Reports to the Committee and keeping them open to new amendments but without radical changes (though its not clear to me how that would be enforced).

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Why funding a suckler cow reduction scheme in Ireland makes sense

I have discussed previously on this blog (here and here) that Ireland faces particular challenges in meeting its EU reduction targets for the non-Emissions Trading Sector in 2030 under the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) because of the high share of agricultural emissions covered by the ESR.

Ireland has an EU obligation to reduce ESR emissions by 20% compared to 2005 levels by 2020, and by 30% by 2030.  The agricultural sector contributes 32% of national emissions, but 45% of the emissions regulated by EU legislation. The other regulated sectors include transport, heat, waste and small industry.

Emissions from all these sectors must be reduced if Ireland is to avoid contributing to global warming.

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The role of the LULUCF sector in the EU’s long-term climate strategy

In its Decision adopting the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decided to convene a facilitative dialogue among Parties in 2018 to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the Agreement’s long-term goal and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) (Para. 20). It also asked those Parties that had submitted intended NDCs prior to the adoption of that Decision, such as the EU, “to communicate or update by 2020 these contributions” (Para. 24). Furthermore, it requested Parties to communicate to the secretariat , by 2020, mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in accordance with Article 4, paragraph 19, of the Agreement (Para.

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Accounting for the LULUCF sector in the EU’s 2030 climate targets

The land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector is assigned an important role in both global and EU climate policy because it is an important store of carbon (around four times as much carbon is stored in soils and biomass including forests as in the atmosphere itself (Lal, 2004) and it is, to date, the only sector with the large-scale potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

The Paris Agreement highlights the potential contribution of the LULUCF sector by setting an objective to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century in order to meet its overall goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

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Long-run perspective on EU agricultural output growth and GHG emissions

The extent to which agricultural growth can take place while at the same time reducing agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is much debated. There is a widespread view, reflected in the agricultural mitigation chapter of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in 2014, that changes in food consumption patterns will be necessary if GHG emissions from global agricultural production are to fall sufficiently to help to stabilise the climate by 2050. The diet changes proposed, including a shift away from meat and dairy product consumption, would deliver emissions reductions by reducing agricultural production. Others point instead to the potential of technological advances to reconcile increased agricultural output with lower emissions, effectively allowing the decoupling of emissions growth from agricultural growth.

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Who makes up the AGRI Committee for the 9th parliamentary term?

Last week, the new European Parliament elected in May set out to constitute itself for the coming parliamentary term. The Parliament’s President (David Sassoli, PS&D) and Vice-Presidents were elected for the first half session (2.5 years) and the political groups nominated their members to the various Parliamentary Committees. We now know the names of the 48 AGRI Committee members for the coming period (up from 46 members in the outgoing AGRI Committee), but who are they? And will the new faces make a difference to the Committee’s position on the various files it must address, not least the ongoing debate on the next CAP reform?

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