Agriculture Ministers hold first discussions on Health Check

Agriculture Ministers had their first discussion of the Commission’s Health Check proposals at the first Council meeting under the Slovenian Presidency yesterday. It appears that the two issues causing the most fuss are the Commission’s suggestions to introduce a progressive reduction in single farm payments to larger farms (inaccurately referred to as capping) and to increase the rate of compulsory modulation (which again would only affect larger farms), in both cases with the additional funds going to Pillar 2 rural development measures. At the same time, Ministers were clearly taken by the emphasis on risk management and safety nets in the Commission Communication and called for more specific proposals in this area.… Read the rest

Forging the link between the Health Check and the Budget Review

The CAP Health Check has been promoted by the Commission as an exercise focused on tidying up the loose ends of the 2003 Mid Term Review and adapting the CAP to an evolving set of circumstances for the period 2008 – 2013. However, this is only half the equation. The Budget Review is set to open up a much more fundamental debate on the rationale for European expenditure on agriculture, and in doing so will delve into the very heart of the CAP. … Read the rest

Commission proposals lack ambition

Later today the European Commission will present its proposals for changes to the Common Agricultural Policy – for so long an emblem of bureaucracy, waste and injustice. This will be the first reform since details began to emerge from top secret government files about exactly who gets what from the €55 billion Europe spends each year on farm subsidies. After a landmark FOI case by The Guardian in 2005, revelations about farm subsidies paid to the Queen (£466,667 in 2005), the Duke of Westminster (£526,136) and Sir Richard Sutton (£917,650) hit the headlines across Europe.… Read the rest

Sneak peak at latest health check leak

Anyone itching to find out what the Commission will be proposing for the CAP health check next Tuesday 20 November need look no further. DG Agri is as leaky as the proverbial sieve and after the jump we have for your reading pleasure the latest version of the consultation document, including a markup of changes made since the AgraFacts leak back in October. … Read the rest

One vision, two steps

It sounds like a Maoist slogan, but farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel set out a ‘one vision, two steps’ plan for the reform of the CAP at the recent Agra Europe conference in London. As she has made clear before, the forthcoming Health Check which will address the period up until 2013 is seen largely as a tidying up exercise rather than an opportunity for further fundamental reform. The Commission is currently preparing a Green Paper on the Health Check but this is not expected to be ready until after the summer.… Read the rest

Fischer Boel: one vision, two steps

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Farmers’ Union, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel set out her priorities for next year’s CAP ‘health check’. She described her approach as ‘one vision, two steps’, the first step being the health check and the second step being the EU budget review scheduled for 2008/09. It will be very interesting to see how successful she will be in keeping these two steps separate, as the sheer size of the CAP in relation to the rest of the EU budget (in 2005 it was a shade under 50%) makes it impossible to have any meaningful budget discussions without addressing the future of the CAP.… Read the rest