Tag Archives: politics

Ciolos hearing at the House of Commons

On 13 January, Dacian Ciolos gave testimony to the UK Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on CAP reform.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

French environment ministry coming out in favour of a green CAP

The French Ministry of the environment has spectacularly broken ranks with the Ministry of agriculture by publishing its vision ‘For a sustainable agricultural policy in 2013’. The 17-page document does not beat about the bush: it calls for a radical overhaul and puts down numbers. After stormy protests, it has been withdrawn from the Ministry webpage.

1 Comment Continue Reading →

For an Ambitious Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy

New declaration by agricultural economists criticizes policy-makers’ status quo bias.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Which member states pay for wasteful farm income support?

The closer that CAP reform negotiations come to the finish line, the more will member states look at their financial bottom line. ‘How much do we pay, how much do we get?’ That question will concern finance ministers and heads of states at least as much as the objectives and instruments the CAP funds are spent on.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

The historic roots of agricultural protectionism in Europe

The historical roots of agricultural protectionism in Europe are deep – going back to the 19th century. Agriculture is not special in itself but a classical example of special interests defending their rents to the detriment of collective welfare.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

A tale of two visions

The German government has recently announced its position on the post-2013 CAP – which is at loggerheads with the call for reforms published by its scientific advisory bodies.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Who will guard the guardians?

How effective is the evaluation of rural development policy? A practitioner’s opinion and a seminar.

1 Comment Continue Reading →

EP draft report: Whereas all this is nonsense

The EP own-initiative report on the post-2013 CAP is taking shape as a new draft has become available (dated 24.3.2010). Though it is better packaged, and sexed-up with a ‘green growth’ tag, the content is just as dull and conservative as the earlier draft. The report captures the intellectual deficiency of the CAP-insider bubble. The [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

EP own-initiative report on the post-2013 CAP

The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development is preparing a report on the post-2013 CAP. A recently published draft is alarming.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

The Socialist Revolution

The European Socialists & Democrats have published a position paper (A NEW CAP beyond 2013 and for a longer view) calling for radical changes: a focus on public goods and social objectives, the merging of all instruments into a single pillar, and the shedding of all rural development measures not directly related to agriculture.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

New Danish farms minister in subsidy storm

Yesterday’s reshuffle of the Danish government included the appointment of a new minister for agriculture: Henrik Høegh. Less than a day into his new job, he is becoming embroiled in a political row over a perceived conflict of interest. The reason? Mr Høegh is a farmer who receives more than sixty thousand euro a year [...]

4 Comments Continue Reading →

The BirdLife-ELO escapade

BirdLife International has made a mistake in getting into bed with the European Landowners Organisation

Comments Off Continue Reading →

The job nobody wanted

Over at the excellent farmpolicy.com Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts, has posted a thorough account of the appointment of the new EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. He says that while Romania had sought the powerful position, it was really a case of appointment by default: I tend to feel that Barroso was left with [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

A new decade, a new CAP

Five leading European farming and environmental NGOs, who between them boast several million members, have jointly published a blueprint for a new Common Agricultural Policy. In an unusual and very modern step, they have published a draft proposal and opened it for consultation. They will produce a final version in 2010. The proposal, which runs [...]

1 Comment Continue Reading →

Scotland ‘on message’ on farm subsidies

Scotland is far more in tune with current thinking on farm subsidies in mainland Europe than England and Wales, claims Scotland’s rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead. Addressing farmers at a Christmas Carcass competition in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead brought them glad tidings about the deep divide in agriculture policies on the two sides of the border. [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Andris Piebalgs for Agriculture Commissioner?

With the CAP among the EU’s oldest and biggest policies, it’s something of a surprise that no country has nominated an ‘agriculture specialist’ for the commission. This makes for a challenge to select an able successor to Mariann Fischer Boel, who came to the post having served as Farms Minister in Denmark as well as [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

G-21 an anti-reform bloc?

At various times in the history of the CAP, member states have formed informal groupings to address particular issues, e.g., ‘the Aachen Five’ and the agri-monetary system. The G-21, in effect led by France, is a much larger grouping which constitutes a qualified majority in the Council. It become the G-21 rather than the G-20 [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Agricultural economists declare war on the CAP

I’ve always found the notion of ‘agricultural economists’ a curious one. As if the normal rules of economics don’t apply to agriculture and there’s need for a special discipline of agricultural economics. In universities agricultural economists are often housed in their own special departments, separate from the regular Economics department. I wonder if this alternate [...]

3 Comments Continue Reading →

First Lisbon Treaty ‘Euro-petition’ takes aim at livestock subsidies

The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and among it’s political innovations is a “citizens’ petitions” tool. Article 8B says that “Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Dairy sector measures do not set pulses racing

4000 dairy farmers with 900 tractors demonstrated outside an EU agricultural ministers meeting in Luxembourg yesterday calling for more aid for the sector. Inside, ministers faced a Franco-German memorandum backed by 20 member states with a series of demands for market distorting measures. In the event the concessions the Commission made are probably the least [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

One year after the budget review conference: What has happened with the CAP reform process?

Until recently, I have walked through Brussels with this grey-blue bag that all participants of the 2008 budget review conference received. In the meantime, it has fallen apart, and I don’t have anything to replace it. This is somewhat similar to the CAP & EU budget debate: the 2008 conference presenting the results of the [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Who will be next agriculture commissioner?

The next agricultural commissioner will have the chance to shape the future development of the CAP. So who will it be?

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Barroso CAP Vision: Motherhood & apple pie

Just as it’s hard to love Commission President José Manuel Barroso, it’s hard to loathe him. Maybe that’s why he’s the ultimate compromise candidate and has just secured a second five year term of office. President Barroso has just published political guidelines for the next Commission, setting out his stall for a ’2020 vision’ of [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Do we need a “common” agricultural policy?

The final paragraph of Commissioner Fischer Boel’s valedictory leaflet is revealing and foreshadows the debate that has yet to surface about the future of the CAP after 2013, the end of the current financial perspective. Mrs Fischer Boel makes the case for maintaining a common European agriculture policy among the EU’s 27 member states, presumably [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

New EP Ag committee line up

With co-decision on agricultural issues likely to come into force from next year, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has assumed a new importance and there was plenty of competition for places. However, one unasnwered question is whether the Budget Committee will have a stronger influence on plenary voting patterns than the Ag committee.

1 Comment Continue Reading →

Franco-German combine to set future path of the CAP?

Euractiv reports on the creation of a new Franco-German working group to frame reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013. France has a new Agriculture Minister in Bruno Le Maire, who wasted no time in setting out his stall in meetings with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Buckwell: blanket subsidies to continue after 2020

Pillar 1 subsidies are likely to continue after 2020, forecast Professor Allan Buckwell, the Policy Director of the Country Land and Business Association, in an interesting talk at the President’s Seminar of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) in London yesterday.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Let’s get concrete and controversial!

Recently, I attended a conference of the British Land Use Policy Group (LUPG) on ‘Securing our Common Future through Environmentally Sustainable Land Management – Vision for the Future of the CAP post 2013′. The first speaker noted that ‘the challenge of the next months is to identify the questions for CAP reform’. Toward the end, [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

A chorus of despair

Earlier this week I was invited to take part in a round table discussion, as part of a major conference on the future of the CAP, organised by Birdlife/SEO and WWF. The conference began with a joint presentation by SEO and WWF of an interesting new proposal for CAP reform in Spain. The proposal envisages [...]

1 Comment Continue Reading →

Fischer Boel golden goodbye: “Because I’m worth it”

The anti-EU agitprop outfit Open Europe has been huffing and puffing over the golden goodbyes that await those European Commissioners who will be put out to pasture when the current Commission’s five year mandate comes to an end later this year. Among their number is thought to be our own Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Why CAP reform happened

The latest Journal of Common Market Studies (vol.47, 2, March 2009) contains an important article exploring the determinants of CAP reform. It is written by Alan Swinbank, a distinguished agricultural economist and a leading proponent of reform and Arlindo Cunha who was chair of the Agriculture Council in 1992 at the time of the MacSharry [...]

2 Comments Continue Reading →

UK Tories on a crooked path to protectionism?

I realise that opposition politicians have to say all things to all persons and jump on any bandgwagon that’s going on, but I must say that I found an interview with Nick Herbert, the shadow Defra secretary, in Farmers Weekly a bit disappointing. It remains to be seen whether the MP for Arundel and South [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Tenant farmer tells it like it is

I have a lot of sympathy with tenant farmers. It is sometimes said that farmers are asset rich but income poor, by which it is meant that they own a lot of extremely valuable land but don’t make a whole lot of profit from working it. In the case of tenant farmers, who have to [...]

1 Comment Continue Reading →

Don’t watch this, take a look at that

You will be forgiven for wondering why things have been a little on the quiet side here at CAPHealthCheck.eu over the past couple of months. For my part, besides some intensive behind-the-scenes work at farmsubsidy.org and and exciting new EU budget transparency project that’s still under wraps, I’ve been blogging more on the EU budget [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

10 reasons why the Single Payment Scheme is politically unsustainable (part two)

Last week I posted five reasons why it is hard to justify spending 30 billion euros each year on the Single Payment Scheme. Here are five more reasons.

Comments Off Continue Reading →

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 [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Budget pressure on CAP

With the Health Check out of the way, it looks as if the medium-term future of the CAP is going to be strongly influenced by discussions of how the EU budget should be spent. This always raises the awkward question of the opportunity cost of spending large sums of money on subsidising farmers.

1 Comment Continue Reading →

Dairy quota row highlights industry divisions

Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel’s proposal for five annual dairy quota increases of 1 per cent each, adopted unchanged by farm ministers, is under attack from two sides. The Commission believes that this is a sure sign that it has negotiated a fair middle path through a morass of conflicting objectives. A less charitable interpretation would [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

The Estonian vision

A charming young Estonian woman greeted me at the European Parliament yesterday when I went to give evidence to the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (of which more in due course). Of broader significance Estonia is probably the only new member state with a clear concept of how the CAP should evolve. This is outlined [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

French CAP plan nixed by Council

Today’s meeting of the Agriculture Council witnessed the frequently irrestistable force of French attachment to the Common Agricultural Policy run into the occasionally immovable object of UK, Swedish and new member state desire for change. The result was that a much-trumpeted French vision paper for the future of the CAP beyond 2013 was roundly rejected. [...]

3 Comments Continue Reading →

Commission did suppress cross compliance report, says MEP

A week ago I asked why a unfavourable report on cross compliance by the Court of Auditors, adopted on 4 November, has not yet been published. I wondered whether it had anything to do with the imminent end game of the health check negotiations, which featured propoals to further weaken cross compliance requirements. Turns out [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

So who voted for what?

Unanimity, like pregnancy, has a binary quality. A decision can’t be ‘virtually unanimous’. But this is just how French farms minister Michel Barnier described this morning’s final compromise agreement on the health check package. So which of the EU 27 member states were unable to acquiesce in the deal? My sources tell Roger Waite tells [...]

4 Comments Continue Reading →

Parliament’s health check recriminations begin

With the ink barely dry on the Council of Ministers’ final compromise deal on the health check, leading members of the European Parliament are laying into each other after a day of chaotic voting on the Parliament’s approach to the CAP. In a podcast interview yesterday, Paulo Casaca MEP (Socialist Group) told me that the [...]

7 Comments Continue Reading →

+++ Health Check deal +++

European farm ministers have reached a deal on the CAP health check. The principal points are these: * Five annual milk quota increases of 1% each with effect from April 2009, prior to total abolition of the quota system as from April 1 2015 (unchanged from Commission proposal). As is now traditional, when it comes [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Fischer Boel in the European Parliament

Mariann Fischer Boel attended the plenary debate on the CAP health check in the European Parliament earlier today. There is little to report from the debate – most of the contributions were bland and reflected the general desire of the European Parliament to water down the Commission’s reform proposals. Neil Parish MEP called for the [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Cross compliance: is the Court of Auditors being gagged?

As Wyn Grant has observed, the Court of Auditors annual report on the 2007 EU budget published on Monday identified a clutch of weaknesses associated with the controls on spending on EU farm policies. The Court observes that “Some 20 percent of payments audited at final beneficiary level and revealed incorrect payments, a limited number [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

Commissioner Grybauskaité: no future for direct payments

A major conference entitled “Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe” was held yesterday in Brussels, marking the end of the consultation phase of the ‘no taboos’ review of the future of the EU budget led by Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaité. The former Lithuanian finance minister presented the results of the consultation process that received more than [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →

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 [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →
mcdonalds

McDonald’s, Lidl and big biotech at the Copa-Cogeca annual congress

Time is running out to book your place at the annual Congress of European Farmers, organised by COPA-COGECA, the umbrella organization that attempts to represent European farm unions in Brussels. The two-day meet-up, entitled “Visions for the future of agricultural policy in Europe” takes place on 30 September and 1 October. Having perused the programme, [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →
Should the E.U. stick to its target to reach 10% biofuels by 2020?

Barroso’s poll results – 87% say ditch biofuels target

Several bloggers have noted the amazing disappearing biofuels poll (an online poll about EU biofuels policy that suddenly vanished from the website of the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso without any explanation). Following repeated enquries to the Commission President’s press office that were completely ignored, a more formal approach under the EU access to [...]

Comments Off Continue Reading →