10 reasons why the Single Payment Scheme is politically unsustainable

The EU spends around 30 billion euros each year on the single payment scheme, by far the largest of the myriad schemes and programmes that together comprise the 54 billion euro budget of the Common Agriculture Policy. The scheme was first introduced in 2005 but it is hard to see it surviving in its current form beyond the end of the EU’s 2007-13 financial perspective. Here are five reasons why the single payment scheme is not politically sustainable. Five more will follow tomorrow.

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European Parliament defends farm fat cats

If Europe’s wealthiest landowners, from the Duke of Westminster in the UK to Prince Albert of Monaco to the fabulously-named Johannes Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d’Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein (aka Hans Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein) were having sleepless nights over the future of their six and seven figure annual handouts from the Common Agricultural Policy, they can rest assured that they have friends in high places. Or at least, they have friends in the European Parliament.

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Moving towards a flat rate farm payment?

It is sometimes said that the Common Agricultural Policy establishes a level playing field across Europe, allowing farmers to take part in the European single market without fears about a plethora of national subsidies distorting prices, giving some a helping hand and holding others back. If only it were true. The fact is that when it comes to the biggest ticket item in the CAP, the €36 billion in direct payments (the decoupled single payment scheme plus various commodity-linked direct payments), the CAP is far from being a common agricultural policy.

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The CAP and Europe's subsistence farmers

When the Commission unveiled its proposals for the health check back in November 2007, the DG Agri spin machine highlighted the proposals to introduce upper limits on the subsidies that are paid to Europe’s largest, wealthiest and most competitive farmers. What got much less attention was the plan to introduce lower limits, at a level of €250 per annum. This could make life even harder for some of Europe’s poorest farmers and shepherds who barely get a look-in when it comes to Brussels handouts.

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The CAP and Europe’s subsistence farmers

When the Commission unveiled its proposals for the health check back in November 2007, the DG Agri spin machine highlighted the proposals to introduce upper limits on the subsidies that are paid to Europe’s largest, wealthiest and most competitive farmers. What got much less attention was the plan to introduce lower limits, at a level of €250 per annum. This could make life even harder for some of Europe’s poorest farmers and shepherds who barely get a look-in when it comes to Brussels handouts.

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European Parliament weighs in on health check

On Monday 14 July the European Parliament agriculture committee will discuss its response to the Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP health check. The committee’s rapporteur is Luis Capoulos Santos, a Portuguese socialist MEP and former Portuguese Minister for Agriculture. His working document, suggests a number of changes to the Commission proposals, notably a hard ceiling of 500,000 euros on CAP payments to individuals, in addition to a ‘progressive modulation’ that would see payments above 100,000 euros top-sliced to provide additional funding for the EU’s farmland conservation and rural policies.

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US House of Representatives passes ‘veto-proof’ Farm Bill

Dan Morgan of the Washington Post reports on the legislative passage of a 5-year US Farm Bill, with a sufficient majority in the House of Representatives (318:106) to override any Presidential veto. President Bush had previously threatened a veto unless the Farm Bill would set a new upper limit on the size of subsidy payments and avoid raising any new taxes. He looks to have been outmaneuvered.

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Commission's health check proposals leak again

This is the latest in a series of leaks of the Commission’s proposals for the health check, due on 20 May. The explanatory memorandum outlines the latest thinking on the various elements of the package including the issue of progressive modulation: a gradually rising level of compulsory modulation, with higher rates for recipients getting more than €100k, €200k and €300k. You can download it here (http://tinyurl.com/4p5h4p) and read for yourself.

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Commission’s health check proposals leak again

This is the latest in a series of leaks of the Commission’s proposals for the health check, due on 20 May. The explanatory memorandum outlines the latest thinking on the various elements of the package including the issue of progressive modulation: a gradually rising level of compulsory modulation, with higher rates for recipients getting more than €100k, €200k and €300k. You can download it here (http://tinyurl.com/4p5h4p) and read for yourself.

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