Commission's home truths on the CAP

While the Commission’s Communication on the future of the CAP after 2013 is less remarkable for what it says than what it leaves out, one of the accompanying documents is a fascinating read, and reveals much about how the Commission regards the future of the EU’s €55 billion-a-year farm policy.
Despite its unpromising title, the Consultation Document for Impact Assessment shows there are at least some people in the DG Agri bunker who are engaging their brains on the future of the CAP. What’s more, the document hints we might expect something altogether more radical and ambitious when the Commission’s legislative proposals are made later this year.

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Commission’s home truths on the CAP

While the Commission’s Communication on the future of the CAP after 2013 is less remarkable for what it says than what it leaves out, one of the accompanying documents is a fascinating read, and reveals much about how the Commission regards the future of the EU’s €55 billion-a-year farm policy.

Despite its unpromising title, the Consultation Document for Impact Assessment shows there are at least some people in the DG Agri bunker who are engaging their brains on the future of the CAP. What’s more, the document hints we might expect something altogether more radical and ambitious when the Commission’s legislative proposals are made later this year.

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Commission blueprint for future of the CAP

The European Commission’s blueprint for the future of the CAP has been published. While the communication sets all the reasons why the Commission thinks the EU needs to keep on supporting its farmers, it puts off all the really big decisions for another day.

According to the Commission, the main objective of the CAP is “a territorially and environmentally balanced EU agriculture”. What this boils down to is that the Commission believes the EU should supplement any money farmers earn themselves with money from EU taxpayers. A considerable number of justifications are provided, among them:

– the EU should pay farmers because farm incomes are subject to greater variability and are, on average, lower than incomes in the rest of society.

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What 'common' agricultural policy?

DG Regio’s compendious Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion contains a pair of maps looking at CAP expenditure by region.
The first shows the level of Pillar 1 spending per hectare of farmland in in each EU NUTS-3 region over the period 2000-2006.


The second shows the level of Pillar 2 spending per inhabitant in each region between 2007 and 2009.



What do the maps tell us? The first map shows the uneven distribution of direct aids among EU regions of the EU-15. Spain seems to do relatively badly on this score and there is a striking east-west divide in Portugal.

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What ‘common’ agricultural policy?

DG Regio’s compendious Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion contains a pair of maps looking at CAP expenditure by region.

The first shows the level of Pillar 1 spending per hectare of farmland in in each EU NUTS-3 region over the period 2000-2006.


The second shows the level of Pillar 2 spending per inhabitant in each region between 2007 and 2009.



What do the maps tell us? The first map shows the uneven distribution of direct aids among EU regions of the EU-15. Spain seems to do relatively badly on this score and there is a striking east-west divide in Portugal.

Read the rest

French government fighting itself

France has always played a pivotal role in the CAP. As a founder member of the EU, Europe’s largest agricultural economy and the biggest single beneficiary of CAP monies, it has a lot at stake. It is therefore fascinating to witness a violent power struggle within Nicolas Sarkozy’s government over the future of the policy.

On 18 October, French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and Sustainable Development Minister Chantal Jouanno put their names to a 16-page reform proposal that would see France’s current annual €10 billion a year in CAP payments be divided between basic income payments with environmental compliance (€3 billion), farmland conservation contracts (€6 billion) and food chain and price safety nets (€1 billion).

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The Commission communication leak in full

PDF to download. Main text (without footnotes and annex):

EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Brussels, 2910912010
COM(2010) version finale

COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future

1. INTRODUCTION

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is confronted with a set of challenges, some unique in nature, and most unforeseen, that invite the EU to make a strategic choice for the longterm future of its agriculture and rural areas.

In preparation for this Communication, the Commission organised an extensive public debate earlier in 2010 that concluded with a conference in July 20101¥ The Council discussed during four successive Presidencies the reform, the European Parliament (EP) adopted an own initiative report on the post-2013 CAP, and its link with the Europe 2020 Strategy and both the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) have come forward with position papers.

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Franco-German position on future of the CAP

This week the governments of France and Germany have published a short document setting out their common position on the future of the common agricultural policy. It makes for fairly light reading though the following points are worth remarking on:

– The common position endorses further moves towards greater market orientation in the CAP but suggests countervailing measures are needed “to buffer devastating effects of growing price volatility and market crises”.

– There is nothing concrete on the future budget of the CAP and it is stressed that “a final decision on all questions relating to finances will be made when decisions are made on all policies and the entire EU financial framework”.

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Public goods in the spotlight

What’s in a word? Or, to be more specific, two words? Where CAP and the term ‘public good’ is concerned, quite a lot. A new briefing note from the Institute for European Environment Policy takes a look at how the slogan ‘public money for public goods’ has come to define the political debate over the future shape of the CAP.

The briefing looks at the evolution of the idea of environmental public goods as a justification for future public expenditure on agriculture. It also sounds a note of caution, that’s worth repeating here:

The increasing visibility of the public goods concept however, has resulted in the concept being interpreted in different ways.

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Budget rumbles in Brussels

The summer break has come and gone and with the European Parliament back in session, Commissioners back from their yachts and their fonctionnaires back at their desks, the future of the EU budget is back in the spotlight.

As part of the December 2005 heads of government agreement on the 2007-2013 financial perspective it was agreed that there would be a midterm ‘budget review’ in 2008-09 which would look at all areas of the EU budget. including the two hottest political potatoes – the large share of funds going to the CAP and the British budget rebate. The review began with a big public consultation led by the then Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite, who pulled no punches in describing the budget as largely out of tune with Europe’s current and future challenges.

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