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The worst case scenario examined

A new study from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands has attempted to model the effects of the abolition of EU farm subsidies. The authors of the report state that their study is very much a ‘worst case assessment’ since,

“It does not take into account farmers’ behaviour, although the past has shown that farmers do adapt to changes in the Common Agricultural Policy. It also assumes a fixed cost structure and abstracts from changes in factor prices and structural change, all elements which would reduce the impact of reform on farm incomes.”

The report makes it clear that the effect of subsidies – and their removal – is not felt evenly across Europe.… Read the rest

EU boosts farm subsidy millionaires by more than 20 per cent in 2009

Today, farmsubsidy.org revealed the results of an intensive two-day harvest of new farm subsidy data published by the European Union’s member states in accordance with the new laws on disclosure of beneficiaries of EU funds.

The data, relating to payments made in 2009, has been harvested from twenty seven government websites, in some cases using advanced computer programming techniques. So far, data on 38.3 billion euros of payments have been harvested (from a total CAP budget of 55 billion euros). In some cases member states have made the data easy to access, in other cases they appear to take deliberate steps to block access.… Read the rest

Sarkozy and Cameron on collision course?

David Cameron, leader of a British Conservative Party that is well ahead in the opinion polls just weeks ahead of a General Election, has already ruffled feathers across La Manche, with reported jibes about the diminutive stature of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is reeling from personal life scandals and a drubbing in regional elections. The remarks provoked a reaction from Paris, which accused the British Opposion leader of lacking respect for the French Head of State.

Such a trifling spat may be just the start of a tricky Anglo-French relationship over the future of EU budget, in particular the €60 billion common agricultural policy and Britain’s special budget rebate.… Read the rest

Does the CAP fit?

The biggest driver for further reform of the CAP is budgetary. At a time when most governments are struggling with vast budget deficits, public expenditure is under pressure as never before. Policy-makers are looking for ways to trim budgets, to get better value for public money and to ensure that budgets are aligned with their most pressing policy priorities. Several years ago the commission initiated a ‘fundamental’ review of the EU budget and it is expected that this will set the scene for the debate over the EU’s finances from 2014 onwards. The views of member states are critical, as they hold the EU’s purse strings.… Read the rest

Le Monde debates the CAP

Last Friday, Le Monde, the leading French daily newspaper, devoted a double-page spread on its comment pages to the common agricultural policy. Along with José Bové, Michiel A. Keyzer and Jean-Christophe Bureau I was invited to contribute an article to the debate. You can read it in French on the Le Monde website. I’ve posted an English version below.

Farming should protect Europe’s environmental resources not use them up

In 2009, farm incomes fell across the whole of the EU, not least in France. Dairy farms have been hardest hit with average prices down twenty per cent. This is despite the EU spending 55 billion euro on the common agricultural policy, one of whose aims is to ensure farmers a fair standard of living.… Read the rest