Alan Matthews

Economist
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Alan Matthews is Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy in the Department of Economics at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. His major research interests are agricultural policy analysis, the impact of international trade on developing countries, and computable general equilibrium analysis of trade and agricultural policy reforms. He has worked as a consultant to the European Parliament, the OECD, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the UN Industrial Development Organisation, and has been a panel member in a number of WTO Dispute Settlement procedures. He is a former President of the European Association of Agricultural Economists but writes here in a personal capacity.

Recent blog posts written by Alan Matthews

Food Wise 2025 agri-food strategy launched in Ireland

Environmental assessment of new Irish agri-food expansion strategy side-steps the vital questions.

Including LULUCF in the EU’s 2030 climate policy target

EU consultation on how to include agriculture, forestry and other land uses in its climate policy framework after 2020 closes today.

Levelling the playing field for land-based enterprises in Ireland

Forestry needs a level playing field with livestock.

Removal of vineyard planting rights will require another French Revolution

Historical parallels show the immense difficulties in eliminating vine planting rights.

Food prices, poverty and the CAP

Agricultural price policy is a very poor instrument to use to steer consumers’ food consumption and diet choices.

UK Brexit and agriculture

New paper argues that UK withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) would have significant adverse effects for the Irish agri-food sector.

Two steps forward, one step back: coupled payments in the CAP

One of the success stories in the evolution of CAP reform has been the change from supporting the product to supporting the producer by moving, first, from market price support to coupled payments, and then by decoupling these payments. The 2013 CAP reform has reversed this process. Coupled aids have started to grow again, from [...]

TTIP and the potential for US beef imports

Discusses background to US beef exports to the EU and asks if beef should be treated as a sensitive product in TTIP negotiations with the US

Forum for the Future of Agriculture 2015 – Remarks on EU agricultural trade policy

The EU is a largely self-sufficient economy when it comes to food and agriculture, so trade liberalisation will have limited impacts.

Farmers’ share of food chain value added

The declining farm share of value added in the food supply chain tells us nothing about the fairness of supply chain relationships.

The Energy Union package and agriculture

The Energy Union package sets out that key pieces of legislation determining how climate targets will impact on agriculture will be published in 2016.

The UK milk ‘crisis’ – fact or fiction?

The UK dairy sector is not in a state of crisis, but ongoing structural changes are controversial.

Why the poor EU response to higher grain prices?

It would seem important to gain a better understanding of why the EU’s supply response to higher world food prices has not matched that in Africa, let alone the rest of the world, since 2006.

Commitments to rural development spending 76% below forecast in 2014

The publication by the Commission of its second Draft Amending Budget (DAB No.2) to the EU’s 2015 budget this week reveals in stark figures the extent of the hiatus in CAP rural development spending caused by the delays in passing the relevant legislation and in approving rural development programmes. I first highlighted how approval of [...]

Agricultural implications of British EU withdrawal for rest of the EU

A UK withdrawal from the EU would raise trade costs for EU farm and food exporters and importers to and from the UK, depending on the trade arrangements in place after withdrawal.

Impact of the MFF negotiations on the CAP 2013 reform

How did the parallel negotiations on the size and composition of the MFF influence the outcome of the 2013 CAP reform?

Simplification as a top priority in 2015

What can we expect in 2015 from the CAP simplification agenda?

The 2015 EU budget and agricultural spending

The 2015 EU budget outcome was game, set and match to the farm lobby.

Rural development programming 2014-2020

The slow pace of approval of new Rural Development Programmes means farmers will be unable to tap into new Pillar 2 funds until second half of next year and even longer for agri-environment-climate measures,

The Doha Round is back on track

Taking on board new concerns, such as rebasing the calculation of domestic support and extending disciplines on export restrictions, is the key to a successful outcome of the post-Bali work programme in agriculture.

FADN data highlights dependence of EU farms on subsidy payments

Can a system in which taxpayers transfer €63,000 each year to each farmer in Luxembourg be justified?

EU sugar beet prices to fall by 22-23% when quotas eliminated

Sugar beet prices could fall by 23% due to quota abolition according to a Joint Research Centre study, but there are many uncertainties.

An agricultural perspective on the European Council 2030 climate and energy framework conclusions

Analysis of the ways agriculture will be affected by the European Council conclusions on the 2030 climate and energy framework

Farmers may have to pay for Russian crisis aid

The Commission’s amending letter No.1 to the 2015 draft EU budget may indicate that willingness to accede to agricultural sector demands for increased support may now be reaching a saturation point.

Agriculture in the 2030 Climate and Energy Package

The treatment of agriculture in the EU’s climate change targets for 2030 will still remain unclear after the European Council meeting later this week.

What is the growth potential of EU agriculture?

What is the potential for growth in EU agriculture in the coming period given its disappointing performance over the past two decades?

Phil Hogan confirmed as Commissioner

Hogan strongly confirmed by EP COMAGRI following his hearing yesterday.

Trends in EU agricultural self-sufficiency

Agricultural self-sufficiency in the EU mostly increased in the past decade despite the introduction of decoupling.

Prospects for the next CAP reform

There appears to be little appetite for further CAP reform in the near future.

Russian food sanctions against the EU

The impact of Russian sanctions against EU agri-food exports need to be kept in perspective, but will affect particular products and countries.

WTO failure on trade facilitation agreement puts question mark over Doha timeline

India played a poor hand in Geneva despite raising important issues on how domestic support should be measured under WTO rules

The draft 2015 CAP budget

The Commission’s 2015 draft CAP budget keeps spending stable in 2015.

Geographical indications (GIs) in the US-EU TTIP negotiations

Geographical indications are among the hurdles in the US-EU talks on a transatlantic free trade agreement.

Food safety in the US-EU TTIP negotiations

Food safety standards are one of the most difficult chapters in the US EU free trade negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The 2013 CAP reform and biodiversity

A new paper in Science is a formidable summary of the weaknesses of the current CAP reform from a biodiversity perspective.

What is happening to EU agricultural productivity growth?

Two different sources give wildly different estimates of what is happening to agricultural productivity in the EU.

Overcoming the deadlock on cultivation of GM crops in EU countries

The Greek Presidency may get Council agreement on new rules for GM crop cultivation in the EU by the beginning of the summer.

How to interpret cross-compliance

Does cross-compliance set the environmental baseline, or are GAEC standards additional restrictions on land management for which compensation must be paid?

Incentivising soil carbon sequestration

Soil carbon sequestration can help in mitigating climate change but new thinking is needed on how to incentivise the needed changes in land management.

Competition issues in the single CMO regulation

Producer organisations get new powers to restrict sales and to undertake market withdrawals during a market crisis in new single CMO regulation.

Rising numbers of families cannot afford to spend enough on food

New evidence showing the growing number of people in high-income countries including the EU experiencing difficulties acquiring sufficient food.

Comparative food prices across the EU

EU country rankings based on relative food prices show little change since crisis began, DK the most expensive and PL the cheapest places to buy food.

Global area under biotech crops continues to grow while EU policy struggles

While much of the rest of the world embraces the GM technologies with their economic, health and environmental benefits, Europe continues to flounder.

The distribution of CAP direct payments

The distribution of CAP direct payments was still very unequal in 2012.

Does TTIP (and TPP) require TPA?

How important is Trade Promotion Authority to concluding the EU-US free trade area TTIIP negotiations?

Export refunds and Africa

Commissioner Ciolos’ suggestion that export subsidies should be prohibited in trade agreements with African countries is a limited move but should be adopted.

Agriculture in the Commission’s climate policy to 2030

Commission hints at new treatment of agriculture and LULUCF in future climate policy

The timeline for rural development programming

One of the innovations in rural development programming for the next multi-annual period is that there is meant to be much greater integration between EAFRD spending and spending through the other structural and investment funds. Trying to achieve this greater integration has been, and is, a fraught and time-consuming process, with implications for when member [...]

More on Pillar 2 allocations by member state

The Commission’s proposal to use objective criteria to allocate Pillar 2 funds was rejected by the European Council; have member states been more successful?

The Ciolos CAP reform

The Agricultural Council yesterday concluded the legislative process on the 2013 CAP reform. This post discusses the factors shaping the Ciolos reform.