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.
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.
Th AGRI Committee voted its Opinion on amendments to the CMO Regulation on Monday 1 April, its Opinion on the Strategic Plan Regulation on 2 April and will vote its Opinion on the Horizontal Regulation on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP today 8 April. I plan to comment on the substantive outcome of these votes in the coming days. In this post I want to comment on a procedural aspect of these votes that I find does not live up to the norms of acceptable practice and which makes it impossible for anyone not in the inner circle to follow the voting on these Opinions.
The final study, when it is published, will throw light on these issues.
(Note: Right click on the images below and select Show picture to get clearer view of the graphics)
Centre-right wins battle over CAP reform; net contributor country MEPs outvoted
MEPs voted on a package of four legislative proposals that make up the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The subject was hotly debated, as CAP currently accounts for close to 40% of the EU budget.
In an article this week in the Irish farming press, Mairead McGuinness set out the timeline as seen from the Parliament’s perspective. Mairead McGuiness is the EPP Group shadow rapporteur for the direct payments report contained within the legislative package, and thus centrally involved in formulating the EP’s position.
According to McGuinness, the current timeline envisages that draft reports will be prepared for consideration by the Agriculture Committee by April next, with a vote in Committee taking place in September on the changes proposed by MEPs.
As national governments decide by how much they are going to pay of nurses and school teachers, how many university places they will cut and which taxes they are going to have to increase, the idea that aids to farmers are ringfenced from cuts will come as a surprise to many.
De Castro explains that he has always regarded himself as a CAP reformer and sets out his vision for a reshaping of the EU’s farm subsidy system. He advocates a shift to a basic flat rate aid payment to farmers, plus additional funds to be allocated at the discretion of member states.
The hearing will be webcast live, between 9am and noon, Brussels time.
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?