Agriculture in the European Green Deal: From Ambition to Action

Today I had the pleasure of contributing to a panel discussion on the European Green Deal at the annual DG AGRI workshop on the medium-term outlook for EU agricultural markets, income and environment. This post consists of a slightly extended version of my remarks.

The European Green Deal is a growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a prosperous, fair, competitive and resource-efficient economy, with no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, zero pollution and a decoupling of economic growth from resource use. It is also a response to urgent challenges.

Despite progress in some areas, many trends in the farm and food sectors are going in the wrong direction.

Read the rest

CAP Transition Provisions 2021 Regulation delayed

In June 2020 the Council and COMAGRI negotiators reached a partial provisional political agreement on all essential aspects of the Commission draft Regulation extending the CAP provisions beyond 2020 (I discussed the Commission’s draft Regulation in this post). This followed a decision by COMAGRI to enter into negotiations with the Council without first seeking a Parliamentary first reading position on the basis of its legislative report on the draft Regulation agreed in May 2020. While most of the provisions of the CAP direct payments regulation would apply as long as that regulation remains in force, the transition regulation is necessary to provide a legislative basis for other CAP spending after 1 January 2021.

Read the rest

Keep an eye on coupled income support

Much attention is rightly focused on the changes that the co-legislature (Council  and Parliament) might make to the Commission’s proposed green architecture in the next iteration of the CAP (see contributions from Lakner and Pe’er and ARC2020 as well as my earlier post). There are also other elements in the proposed CAP framework with potentially important implications for production and environmental outcomes. In this post I focus on the proposals for one of the more production-distorting elements, namely, coupled income support.

The background

The conditions governing what is called ‘voluntary coupled support’ (VCS) in the current CAP and what the Commission has relabelled ‘coupled income support’ in its May 2018 proposal for the next CAP have been gradually relaxed in the current CAP period (I have previously described in earlier posts the changes made in the 2013 CAP reform and the changes introduced in the Omnibus Regulation).

Read the rest

German Presidency pursues lowest common denominator on future CAP green architecture

The German Presidency of the AGRIFISH Council posted a background note on 3 September 2020 on the green ambition of the future CAP prepared for a meeting of the Special Committee on Agriculture on 7 September. This follows a background paper on the green architecture of the CAP that it prepared in early July shortly after it assumed the Council Presidency. This was intended to steer discussion at the July AGRIFISH Council meeting and raised questions specifically around eco-schemes and setting a minimum share of non-productive land that might be required as part of conditionality.

These documents build on, and in some aspects amend, the work of the Croatian Presidency in the first half of the year.

Read the rest

Reflections of CAP strategic planning in times of corona

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Emil Erjavec, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Policy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The current pause in the ‘normal’ functioning of mankind and the European Union in general offers an opportunity to reconsider the functioning of institutions and design of public policies. The battle with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its associated COVID-19 disease has brought to the forefront the importance of employing knowledge and an evidence-based approach as a basis for public decision-making.

It has also opened a window of opportunity to combat another illness, the prevalent political pragmatism and interest-based nature of policies in general and the Common Agricultural Policy in particular.

Read the rest

Agriculture in the European Green Deal

The Commission published its Communication on the European Green Deal in mid-December 2019. Previously flagged in Commission President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines for the new Commission, it defines the key political objectives of the new Commission for the next five years.

The headline commitment is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 (while conflating the EU with Europe may seem like over-reach by the Commission, it should be remembered that other European countries, most recently Switzerland, either participate in or are linked to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the UK government’s preference is that it will remain associated after Brexit).

Read the rest

Commission publishes CAP transition regulations recognising implementation of new CAP will be delayed

DG AGRI and the Commission have now officially recognised that, in view of the present state of play in both the Parliament and the Council, the basic acts governing the CAP post 2020 and the ensuing delegated and implementing acts will not be formally adopted by January 2020 and that, therefore, it will be necessary to plan for a transitional period. The new legal framework will now begin from 1 January 2022.

Although the current CAP Regulations continue in force until they are repealed, they need amendment to ensure that there is a legal basis for making payments to farmers in 2021.

Read the rest

Agriculture Commissioner-designate Wojciechowski stumbles at hearing

One piece of advice given to everyone who goes for a job interview is that you need to prepare. Commissioner-designate for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski seemed to have done limited preparation for his hearing in front of COMAGRI (with COMENVI as an associated committee) in the European Parliament earlier this week and failed to impress. As a result, he has been asked to respond to a fresh set of questions submitted by the Committee before it decides if it is willing to support his candidacy.

Read the rest

What will the European Parliament elections mean for CAP reform?

The European Parliament (EP)’s agricultural committee adopted its Opinions on the three CAP-related legal proposals earlier this month. However, lack of time during this Parliamentary session before elections take place to the EP at the end of May means that the Parliament itself will not vote on these Opinions until after the new Parliament reconvenes in July.

While the outgoing committee would like to see the new Parliament use its Opinions as the starting point for its plenary voting, there is no guarantee that this will be the case. The composition of the political groups in the new Parliament may be very different to what has existed in the current Parliament.

Read the rest

Designing CAP Strategic Plans to maximise environmental and climate potential

Those seeking to influence the design of the CAP post 2020 should understand the process of designing Strategic Plans, and the opportunities and constraints inherent in this process. In a recent working paper, I try to explain how Strategic Plans will be constructed and the key entry points for those seeking to improve the environmental and climate ambition of these Plans. The paper is written from a development perspective but the messages have a more general relevance.

The paper does not discuss how the CAP legislation itself might be improved from an environmental or development perspective. The Parliament’s Committee on Development and Environment Committee have submitted their Opinions to the agriculture committee with a range of suggestions in this regard (the latter still only available in Italian), although few were taken on board in the AGRI Committee voting .

Read the rest