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 .

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The CAP and migration

One of the more unexpected sections in the Commission Communication The Future of Food and Farming published in November 2017 was the very final section on Migration. This begins “The future CAP must play a larger role in implementing the outcome of the Valetta (sic) Summit, addressing the root causes of migration.” This is, to my knowledge, the first time that an explicit link has been made between the CAP and migration pressures from countries outside the EU in a Commission publication. For example, in the most recent EU Policy Coherence for Development report from 2015, the section on agricultural policy makes no reference to migration.

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How external influences have shaped the CAP

When the external impact of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is discussed, it is often in the context of evaluating the CAP’s impact on world markets and third countries. For example, there is a substantial literature which looks the coherence of the CAP with the EU’s development co-operation objectives by examining its impact on developing countries (see my 2014 review chapter here).
In a new study for the AGRI Committee of the European Parliament, Professor Alan Swinbank of the University of Reading turns this traditional focus on the impact of the CAP on world markets on its head. His study The Interactions between the EU’s External Action and the Common Agricultural Policy instead looks at how the external dimension of the EU – including trade policies pursued through the WTO and other international obligations and its development co-operation activities with neighbouring states and developing countries – have influenced the evolution of the CAP.… Read the rest

Forum for the Future of Agriculture 2015 – Remarks on EU agricultural trade policy

The 8th Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA2015) was held yesterday in Brussels. This annual meeting, organised jointly by the European Landowners’ Association and Syngenta, attracts around 1400 participants and has established itself as one of the principal fora for debate on the future of agricultural policy. What makes the event interesting is that it attracts a good number of participants from among farmers and the agri-business sector while also being open to environmental NGOs and others critical of current agricultural practices.
The theme for yesterday’s meeting was the UN Sustainable Development Goals and possible implications for EU agriculture, with contributions from both Commissioners Hogan (Agriculture) and Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries).… Read the rest

The development interest in the CAP reform debate

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, called last week for MEPs to take into account the impact on developing countries when voting on amendments to the draft CAP regulations post-2013 (see also here). Among other issues, he called on MEPs to support the views of the European Parliament’s Development Committee, which voted unanimously in favour of a mechanism to monitor the CAP’s development impacts (look for Amendment 4 inserting a new Article 110(a)). In the voting last week, COMAGRI MEPs declined to do this.
De Schutter had previously issued a report with some controversial recommendations on how this round of CAP reform could help to realise the right to food in developing countries.… Read the rest

Updated analysis of Commission legislative proposals

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development has now published the final updated version of my paper looking at the trade and development implications of the Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013. Apart from making some corrections to the preliminary version, it takes account of the main changes in the Commission’s proposals on October 12th last compared to what was in the heavily-leaked drafts as well as the full impact assessments released at the same time.

The main changes include:
– The replacement of the firm commitment to have a uniform payment per hectare across all land and member states by 2029 in the regulation itself, to an aspirational commitment in the preambular material that member states will work towards this goal in the next financial perspectives period.

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The development angle

“Waste at home and damage abroad”. That is how one Member of the European Parliament described the common agricultural policy. Gabrielle Zimmer, a German MEP who sits on the parliament’s development committee, was speaking at a conference convened last month by the United Nations Millenium Campaign to look at the impact of Europe’s farm tariffs and subsidies on developing countries.

According to Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and another participant in the same meeting,

“The biggest challenge the EU’s development aspirations are facing is the lack of policy coherence. The trade, development, agriculture and environmental policies are simply out of sync with regard to developing countries.”

Eveline Herfkens, Founder of the UN Millennium Campaign, pulled no punches,

“An unreformed European agriculture policy will continue to hamper the EU’s and other donors’ efforts to eradicate poverty and will perpetuate human suffering.”

European countries lead the world as donors of development aid, but for decades the EU has pursued agriculture policies which have had the reverse effect – whether it’s trade barriers that make it harder for developing countries to export farm produce to Europe or subsidies that encourage European farmers to overproduce, driving prices down and undercutting unsubsidised farmers in poorer countries.

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New book reveals extent of ‘box shifting’

When the negotiators in the Uruguay Round of the GATT introduced the concept of the ‘green box’ – farm support measures that are minimally or non-trade distorting and therefore exempt from any limits – few would have foreseen that within 15 years, the bulk of farm support in the developed world would be in the green box. A new book “Agricultural Subsidies in the WTO Green Box: Ensuring Coherence with Sustainable Development Goals”, published by Cambridge University Press, shows the extent to which farm support has been shifted out of more traditional, trade distorting measures and into the green box. It addresses the vexed question of whether green box supports are really as trade-neutral and environmentally beneficial as they are claimed to be.… Read the rest

New book reveals extent of 'box shifting'

When the negotiators in the Uruguay Round of the GATT introduced the concept of the ‘green box’ – farm support measures that are minimally or non-trade distorting and therefore exempt from any limits – few would have foreseen that within 15 years, the bulk of farm support in the developed world would be in the green box. A new book “Agricultural Subsidies in the WTO Green Box: Ensuring Coherence with Sustainable Development Goals”, published by Cambridge University Press, shows the extent to which farm support has been shifted out of more traditional, trade distorting measures and into the green box. It addresses the vexed question of whether green box supports are really as trade-neutral and environmentally beneficial as they are claimed to be.… Read the rest

World food prices and the CAP

Jorge Nùñez Ferrer of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels has an interesting comment on the possible implications of current high food prices for future CAP reform in the debate on the post-2013 EU budget, in which he rather despairingly projects that “the French Presidency will seek to strike a deal in the name of world food security to maintain (if not increase) the present budgetary allocation for the CAP for the next Financial Perspectives, similar to the agreement struck between Chirac and Schroeder in 2002.” Certainly, the way the CAP should be reshaped in an era of higher world food prices is a new element in the debate on CAP reform which it is obviously hugely important to address.… Read the rest