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Updated analysis of Commission legislative proposals

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development has now published the final updated version of my paper looking at the trade and development implications of the Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013. Apart from making some corrections to the preliminary version, it takes account of the main changes in the Commission’s proposals on October 12th last compared to what was in the heavily-leaked drafts as well as the full impact assessments released at the same time.

The main changes include:
– The replacement of the firm commitment to have a uniform payment per hectare across all land and member states by 2029 in the regulation itself, to an aspirational commitment in the preambular material that member states will work towards this goal in the next financial perspectives period.
– The possibility for Member States to modulate up to 10%, rather than 5%, of their Pillar 1 envelope to enhance their Pillar 2 funds.
– The decision to let the sugar quota regime end in 2015 and not provide a further year extension as initially foreseen.
– Despite the abolition of axes in Pillar 2 rural development programming, member states will be required to use at least 25% of their envelope for issues relating to land management and fighting climate change.
– The inclusion of net ceilings as well as national ceilings for each member state, thus indicating the relative importance of the amounts modulated to Pillar 2 through capping (overall, just 0.4% of the €42 billion in direct payments will be affected).
– The need for a beneficiary of the new allocation of entitlements in 2014 to have owned at least one entitlement in 2011 (a specific provision intended to try to prevent speculation in land in Ireland).

The negativity in the reactions to the Commission’s proposals has been quite striking, even given the issues at stake. It was clear that this CAP reform would always be a conservative one, and would thus fall short of the recommendations of more radical critics of the CAP. But Euractiv’s reporting noted that “absolutely no one, except for the European Sugar Users association (CIUS), seems happy with the Commission’s legal proposal to reform the CAP, presented on 12 October.”

Now these reactions may all be just negotiating tactics, but they must be a disappointment to the Commission all the same. Given the huge effort that went into the consultation process, both before the release of the Commission’s Communication in November 2010 and in the course of the impact assessment, and given the various leaks of the proposals which would have made it easy for member states and others to influence the process at an early stage, one wonders if the Commission has seriously misjudged the mood of decision-makers? What happens to the proposals now in the Parliament and in the Council of Ministers will decide.

The first thoughts of the Ministers in reaction to the proposals can be viewed in the videocasting of yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Agricultural Ministers (Commissioner Ciolos takes the floor to introduce the debate 15 mins into the video, the language can be chosen from the bar underneath the video).

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