Franco-German combine to set future path of the CAP?

Euractiv reports on the creation of a new Franco-German working group to frame reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013. France has a new Agriculture Minister in Bruno Le Maire, who wasted no time in setting out his stall in meetings with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

“It is absolutely necessary to regulate production,” Le Maire told the press. “Agriculture is too strategic to be left to market forces. We saw in the financial sector what happens when we leave market forces to themselves. We need as much regulation in agriculture as in the financial sector.”

“Our main political objective must be to guarantee stable and decent revenue for farmers,” he went on, noting that French farmers had lost 20% of their income since the boom year of 2008. Such price volatility and decreases are “not economically viable” and “farmers cannot live with such instability,” he said.

Le Maire also touched on the need for more transparency in food supply chains to counteract power concentrated in the hands of processors and retailers. On milk, he signaled a softening of the French position, accepting in principle the phasing out of quotas.

On the new working group, Le Maire said that Franco-German cooperation on CAP reform will be very tight. He said he would add a German official to his cabinet to prepare the work. A French official will be sent to Berlin. The working group is open for others to join, he added, announcing a tour of EU capitals that will start in London before going to Madrid, Rome, Bucharest and Warsaw. Paris and Berlin expect to table their first guiding principles for CAP reform “in the coming months”.

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