The greening architecture in the new CAP

Environmental NGOs were harsh in their immediate criticism of the legislative proposals on the new CAP. Greepeace said that the EU farming plan “could spell disaster for the environment”. BirdLife Europe said that “The European Commission’s claim that the new proposal will deliver a higher environmental and climate ambition has fallen flat”, arguing that the new plan “does not guarantee any spending on biodiversity and grotesquely slashes funds ring-fenced for the environment across the board”.

Birdlife Europe has produced a detailed assessment of the Commission’s proposals in a handy tabular form, pointing out both weaknesses in the proposals themselves as well as omissions where the proposals could be strengtened (a summary of this assessment has appeared on this blog).

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Rethinking EU budget spending on agriculture in the next MFF

This post reproduces my key-note statement to the session More efficient use of scarce financial resources – An efficient Common Agriculture Policy and focussed structural Funds at the European Political Strategy Centre High Level Conference ‘Shaping our Future: Designing the next Multiannual Financial Framework’ which was held 8-9 January 2018 in Brussels. The delivered version was slightly abbreviated for time reasons.

The session was intended to reflect on more efficient use of scarce financial resources in the EU budget’s two largest spending categories – agricultural policy and structural funds. I expected my fellow panellists to have a lot to say about structural funds, so my presentation focused on agricultural policy.

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Will there be a CAP reform in 2017?

On Friday last, I took part in a panel discussion at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels on the theme “Will there be a mid-term review in 2017? And, if so, what should it do?” My contribution focused on the timing and procedural issues which will influence the prospect of a substantive early review of the CAP basic acts. Other speakers on the panel (Allan Buckwell from IEEP, Rolf Moehler formerly of DG AGRI and Paolo de Castro MEP from the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament) addressed what the contents of such a review might or should be.… Read the rest

The CAP and biodiversity

Two weeks ago I gave a talk at a biodiversity conference organised by Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority. The proceedings of this conference can be downloaded here. The title for my talk was ‘Could European agricultural policy do more to promote biodiversity?‘ In today’s edition of the Irish Farming Independent I have a short article which summarizes the talk. I reproduce the article below and also the presentation accompanying the talk.
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The 2013 CAP reform had three overall objectives: viable food production; sustainable management of natural resources and climate action; and balanced territorial development.… Read the rest

What biodiversity benefits can we expect from EFAs?

The recent release by the Commission of its Mid-Term Review of the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy makes for sorry reading when it comes to Target 3 “To increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity..”. Specifically, Target 3A dealing with agriculture had the following objective:

By 2020, maximise areas under agriculture across grasslands, arable land and permanent crops that are covered by biodiversity-related measures under the CAP so as to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and to bring about a measurable improvement in the conservation status of species and habitats that depend on or are affected by agriculture and in the provision of ecosystem services as compared to the EU 2010 Baseline, thus contributing to enhance sustainable management.

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Scrap the crop diversification greening requirement and find a sensible replacement

Here is a suggestion for the Commissioner’s simplification agenda: scrap the crop diversification requirement, which is one of the three ‘simple, generalised, non-contractual and annual actions that go beyond cross-compliance’ that make up the requirements for eligibility for the greening payment in the CAP’s Pillar 1. And use the money saved (up to half of the greening budget, or €6.1 billion in 2015) to promote improvements in soil organic matter (the main environmental objective of crop diversification) in a more cost-effective way.
The crop diversification greening measure is a scandalous waste of resources. Not only does the EU notionally spend €6 billion annually on this measure for virtually no environmental or other impact (as we will see).… Read the rest

The Reform of the CAP: One Year After

Almost exactly a year ago the legislative bodies of the European Union accepted 4 new key Regulations that will determine the next period’s CAP. The Commission presented this reform, utilizing the label ‘Greening’, as a shift of paradigm and an introduction of certain other important changes in both the goals and the instruments of European agricultural policy. The essence of the new reform was to find a new justification for and mechanisms of agricultural policy. The reform, which took place in times of economic crisis, was accepted after the Lisbon treaty; as such it was characterized by a new form of legislation which equalized the roles of the European Parliament and Council as key legislators.… Read the rest

Where stand the CAP reform negotiations?

Last week I participated in a session on the state of the CAP reform negotiations at the annual conference of the Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics in Parma.
There were four presentations in the session, including an overview of the state of play in the negotiations by Giovanni Anania; a review of the CAP greening proposals by Jean-Christophe Bureau; an examination of the proposed changes in the rural development regulation by Francesco Mantino; and a discussion of how co-decision is influencing the outcome of these negotiations by myself.
Because the presentations might be of more general interest, with the permission of the presenters I plan to link to them over the next few days.… Read the rest

A short bibliography on CAP greening

As this was a relatively quiet week for news on CAP reform, I thought it might be useful to gather together in one place some references to the debate that has taken place on CAP greening since the publication of the Commission’s proposals in October 2011. This remains one of the knottiest issues to resolve in the CAP trilogues. These papers provide a guide to the general issues in this debate. There is also an emerging literature which attempts to estimate the impact for particular regions and farming systems of implementing the greening measures which I do not cover here. The papers are presented in rough chronological order and include a number of my own contributions so there is a certain amount of repetition.… Read the rest

What farmers should do to qualify for the new CAP green payment

This post originally appeared on the Environment Nexus website.
The trilogue process between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission on the new CAP regulations has now started. Over thirty meetings are scheduled to take place between now and end-June with a view to reaching a political agreement on the four main CAP regulations proposed by the Commission (direct payments, rural development, the single CMO, and the horizontal regulation).
The proposed greening of Pillar 1 payments is one of the key elements in the direct payments regulation. In their responses to the Commission’s proposal both the Council and the Parliament have moved to dilute considerably the impact of the three greening measures proposed by the Commission.… Read the rest