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.

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EU's share of global milk production falling

The EU’s share of global milk production is falling as a result of the quota system according to Rabobank dairy specialist Mark Voorbegen. Addressing a seminar organized by Dairy UK, he said that the EU had a 27 per cent share of the global market in 2005, down from the 1995 level of 31 per cent. By 2015 it is forecast to fall to 25 per cent (although by then quotas may have been abolished).

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EU’s share of global milk production falling

The EU’s share of global milk production is falling as a result of the quota system according to Rabobank dairy specialist Mark Voorbegen. Addressing a seminar organized by Dairy UK, he said that the EU had a 27 per cent share of the global market in 2005, down from the 1995 level of 31 per cent. By 2015 it is forecast to fall to 25 per cent (although by then quotas may have been abolished).

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Fischer Boel: one vision, two steps

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Farmers’ Union, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel set out her priorities for next year’s CAP ‘health check’. She described her approach as ‘one vision, two steps’, the first step being the health check and the second step being the EU budget review scheduled for 2008/09. It will be very interesting to see how successful she will be in keeping these two steps separate, as the sheer size of the CAP in relation to the rest of the EU budget (in 2005 it was a shade under 50%) makes it impossible to have any meaningful budget discussions without addressing the future of the CAP.

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Top level push on Doha Round may not work

An attempt by President Bush and Commission President Barosso to re-start the stalled Doha Round trade talks may not succeed in the face of rising protectionist sentiment in the new Congress and intransigence over subsidies in the EU. Meeting in Washington last week the two leaders instructed their chief trade negotiators to come forward with a deal ‘as soon as possible’. Talks involving the EU, US, Brazil and India are likely to take place in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland at the end of January.

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Phase out subsidies by 2020 says Miliband

Britain’s Defra secretary told the Oxford Farming Conference is committed to a system by 2020 where ‘public funds are only used for public goods, in particular environmental benefits.’ This would mean the effective end of Pillar 1 and of restraints on trade. ‘I see an inevitable process of trade liberalisation, with huge pressure on subsidies and restraints on trade.’ Contrary to the views of the farm commissioner, the 2008 CAP health check should be used to pursue a ‘further fundamental reform’.

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Parliament throws out modulation plan

The European Parliament has thrown out a plan agreed at the 2005 summit of EU heads of government to allow the transfer of funds from Pillar 1 expenditure on farm subidies to Pillar 2 rural development to be increased up to a maximum of 20 per cent. Only the UK was planning to use the full amount, given that it receives low levels of rural development funding and wants to find money for its ambitious agri-environmental schemes. The Parliament can only delay the eventual decision, as it is not part of the co-decision procedure.

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Green box does distort trade, claims Indian study

A report commissioned by the Indian Department of Commerce and carried out by UNCTAD’s Indian team challenges the EU’s argument that decoupled aid payments have only a minimal trade distorting effect. According to the researchers’ model, EU farm exports would fall by a massive 45 per cent if Green Box subsidies were removed and production would fall by close to 6 per cent.

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