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.… Read the rest

Food security: woolly thinking and self defeating solutions

As Jack Thurston has well exposed in his recent entry, the “food security” argument seems to be the new rally call for those trying to justify continuation of untargetted payments to farmers, or even a return to production support (albeit disguised as “risk management”, “income insurance” and the like). At a recent debate I was struck by the fact that the “food security” threat, and hence the need to support further agriculture intensification was almost universally endorsed, including by “CAP reformers”. While Jack has given a powerful argument for refuting the neo-Malthusian scaremongering about looming food shortage, you don’t actually need to believe in a future of plenty to call the bluff on this line of reasoning.… Read the rest

So how green is the Health check “green paper”?

The Commission’s “CAP Health Check” communication acknowledges the fact that European Farming and countryside face unprecedented environmental challenges: continuous biodiversity decline, increasing climate change and a looming water crisis. The Communication fails however to come up with credible proposals for dealing with these challenges. It was hoped that the Commission would use the Health Check to outline a long-term sustainable vision for European farming and land management. Instead, the Communication seems bent on a business as usual scenario. … Read the rest

The health check paper: Homeopathy rather than surgery?

The recently leaked Commission Green paper sets the scene for the upcoming health check. What emerges at the moment is a very cautious and minimalist approach, in line with what the Commissioner has been promising for a while. Two things seem striking. The first is the choice to ignore the budget review debate. The second is the lack of courage in confronting the CAP’s failings.… Read the rest

Plus ça change?

Sarko has done it again. In a brilliant media stunt, he has managed to grab the headlines and project a dynamic image of a changing France, in “rupture” with the Chirac era. I don’t want to ruin the party, and I certainly hope France is moving forward, but his speech is worth a closer look. Yes, he is promising a brand new CAP. But if you look at the few contents, it all sounds quite “déjà vue”. … Read the rest

Set aside: act now, think later…

Following a Swedish proposal and widespread support in the Agriculture Council, the Commission announced the intention to set the level of compulsory set aside at 0% for the 2008 harvest. This is bad news for Europe’s wildlife and suggests a disappointing level of commitment to environmental sustainability on the side of the EU and its Member States. It also seems like a textbook case of ill conceived decision making. … Read the rest

Biofuels- a cold look at a hot issue

Biofuels have been all the rage lately among EU decision makers and Council seems bound on setting an ambitious new binding target for their use. As climate change has finally made it to the top of the political agenda biofuels are being hailed as the silver bullet. Everybody seems to agree they are also a key to the future of the CAP, but consensus ends there. Some see energy production as the perfect excuse to maintain and even restore production subsidies, while others see the opportunity to junk the subsidies as farmers will be making a living from selling (subsidised) biofuels.… Read the rest