Speaking at a meeting of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee in Nicosia, Cyprus on 29 June, Agriculture Commissioner laid out her current thinking on the future of the CAP, in particular the changes she will be proposing later this year for the CAP Health Check.
We will propose further moves towards more decoupling in the Member States which do not apply the Single Area Payments Scheme (SAPS). You can probably expect us to propose a higher level of compulsory modulation, to give us the funding that we need for our ambitious rural development policy. Furthermore, our work on cross-compliance will continue, following our report of March this year. A particular topic for the Health Check will be the scope of cross-compliance…. we will of course examine our various market instruments â€“ intervention, quotas and so on. In particular, I have given a clear signal that we should not renew the milk quota system when it expires in 2015. Therefore, we need to think carefully about transitional measures to help give the sector a soft landing.
Fischer Boel was cautious about revealing her hand when it comes to the wider questions about the future of the CAP that will be part of the EU budget review which will begin next year (though many suspect it is already underway in certain other parts of the Commission). She said:
I don’t want to say too much about the Budget Review now. But I will say that it must not be a discussion about saving a few euros here, a few euros there. This must be above all a discussion about policy â€“ about getting the CAP that we need after 2013. I am confident that this CAP will still have a “first pillar” of some kind, but we will need to think carefully about the exact form of that pillar. We will also need a strong second pillar â€“ rural development policy â€“ to continue to support competitiveness, care for the environment, economic diversification and a high quality of life in our rural areas.
It is likely to be a struggle for DG Agriculture to retain its current 40+ per cent share of the overall EU budget post-2013. The vultures do not yet appear to be circling, though it is clear that anyone who wants to increase spending in the EU budget (for EU foreign policy, innovation, competitiveness, research and development, defence) is going to be looking at the money currently allocated to the CAP to fund their ambitions.