20:20 vision

With the health check done and dusted, European agriculture policymakers turn to the bigger questions of the future of the CAP after the current EU financial perspective, which ends in 2013. Ever since the Chirac-Schroeder deal of 2002, which fixed the overall CAP budget and allocation of direct payments for the subsequent eleven years, there has been no serious debate about whether agriculture policy should continue to consume upwards of 50 billion euros a year and whether the current instruments are able to meet current and future challenges. To help shed light on the debate, the Institute for European Environment Policy has this week launched a new website, called CAP2020.

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Tangermann's parting shot

Later today Stefan Tangermann will step down as Director of the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, a post he has held since 2002. The OECD has a strict ‘retire-at-65’ rule and it may surprise some to learn that the tall and spritely German, invariably sporting one of his trademark bow-ties, has reached such an age. Professor Tangermann has been a colossus among European agriculture policy analysts for at least two decades. Before taking the job at the OECD he was professor of agricultural economics at the University of Göttingen, having been appointed to that position in 1980.

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Tangermann’s parting shot

Later today Stefan Tangermann will step down as Director of the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, a post he has held since 2002. The OECD has a strict ‘retire-at-65’ rule and it may surprise some to learn that the tall and spritely German, invariably sporting one of his trademark bow-ties, has reached such an age. Professor Tangermann has been a colossus among European agriculture policy analysts for at least two decades. Before taking the job at the OECD he was professor of agricultural economics at the University of Göttingen, having been appointed to that position in 1980.

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Podcast: Paulo Casaca MEP on the chaos of Parliament's farm policy

Paulo Casaca MEPIn the second of today’s podcasts from the European Parliament, Paulo Casaca MEP gives his immediate reaction to a series of votes on the CAP health check that saw many MEPs break ranks from agreed party lines, evidence of the passions that are aroused when the Parliament debates food and farming. He argues that the Parliament has lost its way on the CAP and must come up with a new vision for the future of the policy. Mr Casaca is a Portuguese member of the Socialist Group and represents the Azores. He sits on the Budget Committee and chairs the pro-CAP reform Land Use & Food Policy Intergroup.

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Podcast: Paulo Casaca MEP on the chaos of Parliament’s farm policy

Paulo Casaca MEPIn the second of today’s podcasts from the European Parliament, Paulo Casaca MEP gives his immediate reaction to a series of votes on the CAP health check that saw many MEPs break ranks from agreed party lines, evidence of the passions that are aroused when the Parliament debates food and farming. He argues that the Parliament has lost its way on the CAP and must come up with a new vision for the future of the policy. Mr Casaca is a Portuguese member of the Socialist Group and represents the Azores. He sits on the Budget Committee and chairs the pro-CAP reform Land Use & Food Policy Intergroup.

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Buckwell expresses doubts about SFP and pillars

Agra Focus has been conducting a series of interviews on EU farm policy and one of the longest and most interesting to date is with Allan Buckwell. He is currently policy director with the (England and Wales) Country and Land Business Association, but is also chair of the policy committee run by the European Landowners Association. He was for many years a respected agricultural economics and policy academic at the now sadly diminished Wye College. Perhaps his most interesting role in policy terms was when he spent a year in DG Agri in 1995-6 and chaired a group which wrote a report on a Common Agricultural and Rural Policy for Europe.

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Free market think tank weighs in on CAP reform

The European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) is a rare creature among Brussels think tanks: first, it advances a strong free trade agenda and second, it does not rely on EU institutions for its funding (its website says that its ‘base funding’ comes from the Free Enterprise Foundation in Sweden). Earlier in the summer EPICE published a briefing paper about the CAP written by Valentin Zahrnt. There’s not a whole lot new in the paper and there is a lot in common with a policy brief I wrote for the Centre for European Reform back in December 2005. The author comes down firmly on the non-trade-distorting, public money for public goods agenda advanced most strongly by Sweden, Denmark and the UK (and more moderately by the Netherlands).

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+++Netherlands government position paper+++

The Dutch have a well-deserved reputation for straight talking and so it is with the Government’s new position paper on the future of the CAP. As the following paragraph shows, there is no ambiguity over where the Netherlands government stands on the great targeting debate:

In the long term – as described in the present document– there will no longer be any question from the Dutch point of view of generic support for agriculture but solely of targeted payments for promoting competitiveness and sustainability and for socially desirable performance. This approach means that a drastic change will be necessary over the next few years.

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The great targeting debate

Czech agriculture minister Petr Gandalovic made an curious statement at the informal Agriculture Council meeting held earlier this week in the French Alps. Mr Gandalovic, who will assume the chairmanship of the Council under the Czech EU Presidency in the first half of 2009, told his colleagues:

“The more specific you make the policy, the more room you give to bureaucrats who make the decisions. Non-targeted payments give more power to farmers.”

In case it’s not clear, Mr Gandalovic was making the case against targeted payments. In doing so, perhaps inadvertently, he touched on a question that goes to the very heart of the debate about the future of the CAP: the extent to which the CAP’s 54 billion euros of annual public expenditure should be targeted on clearly defined objectives and measurable outcomes.

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