Ciolos hearing at the House of Commons

On 13 January, Dacian Ciolos gave testimony to the UK Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on CAP reform.

Emphasis on international competition as a justification for income support

I don’t see how our agriculture can, at the same time, be competitive in the international market and have higher level of standards than farmers in other parts of the world.

But if we don’t have this minimum support for income and compensatory payments, the risk is that a lot of farmers who can be competitive without the crosscompliance rules that we have in Europe but not in other parts of the world-who in normal situations can be competitive-will not be competitive.

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Who will guard the guardians?

It is EU practice (and legislation) to subject the CAP to a sophisticated system of evaluations. For each member state’s rural development program (RDP), an ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post evaluation is being undertaken by independent bodies. Other studies, commissioned by DG Agri or DG Research, examine specific CAP instruments across Europe on a rolling basis. In addition, the European Court of Auditors scrutinizes selected CAP instruments (here you can find summaries of their CAP-related studies).

But how independent are the evaluators? How strong is their mandate? How useful are the findings? In a recent article in EuroChoices, Angela Bergschmidt, an evaluator from the Federal Research Institute in charge of agriculture in Germany, offers a bleak account:

[It is] a useless evaluation; costly, often low in scientific quality, unread and unnoticed by policymakers and the wider public.

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EP draft report: Whereas all this is nonsense

The EP own-initiative report on the post-2013 CAP is taking shape as a new draft has become available (dated 24.3.2010). Though it is better packaged, and sexed-up with a ‘green growth’ tag, the content is just as dull and conservative as the earlier draft. The report captures the intellectual deficiency of the CAP-insider bubble.

The draft report suggests 5 ‘key building blocks’: area-based direct income support, climate change mitigation payments, payments to areas with natural handicaps, payments for biodiversity and environmental protection, and green growth subsidies with a focus on renewable energy. The first two payments are to be fully financed by the EU, and the other three co-financed by the member states.

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EP own-initiative report on the post-2013 CAP

The Rapporteur of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (ComAgri), George Lyon, has presented his take on the post-2013 CAP. Once the document has been discussed and amended by ComAgri, it will be voted upon first in ComAgri (June) and then in the EP plenary (July).

The starting point of the draft already chills expectations: “The Common Agricultural Policy has been largely successful in fulfilling the objectives it was set out to accomplish so far.”

Three groups of objectives are identified. 1) Supporting economic needs – including an EU agriculture competitive on world markets, EU food security in an unstable world context, and the valuable contribution EU agriculture and the downstream agri-food sector make to EU growth and employment.

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25 Questions for Dacian Ciolos

Agriculture Commissioner designate Dacian Ciolos will appear in a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels this Friday. Here is a list of 25 questions that MEPs should put the man who – subject to their approval – will set the agenda for European food and farming policy over the next five years.

The hearing will be webcast live, between 9am and noon, Brussels time.

The basics

1. Should maximising food production in Europe be a central objective of the CAP?

2. How would you respond to those who say it is hard to make the case for the CAP as a policy to support farm incomes when there are six and seven figure subsidies being paid every year to the likes of the Queen of England and Prince Albert of Monaco?

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The job nobody wanted

Over at the excellent farmpolicy.com Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts, has posted a thorough account of the appointment of the new EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. He says that while Romania had sought the powerful position, it was really a case of appointment by default:

I tend to feel that Barroso was left with no other option, as no one was willing to put forward a good candidate – and that he was the only suitable candidate from among the nominees.

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Andris Piebalgs for Agriculture Commissioner?

With the CAP among the EU’s oldest and biggest policies, it’s something of a surprise that no country has nominated an ‘agriculture specialist’ for the commission. This makes for a challenge to select an able successor to Mariann Fischer Boel, who came to the post having served as Farms Minister in Denmark as well as having farming background herself. In Brussels it seems as if the front-runner is the current Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs of Latvia.

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