pleased to welcome this guest post from Emil Erjavec, Professor of Agricultural
Economics and Policy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The current pause in the ‘normal’ functioning of mankind and the European Union in general offers an opportunity to reconsider the functioning of institutions and design of public policies. The battle with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its associated COVID-19 disease has brought to the forefront the importance of employing knowledge and an evidence-based approach as a basis for public decision-making.
It has also
opened a window of opportunity to combat another illness, the prevalent
political pragmatism and interest-based nature of policies in general and the
Common Agricultural Policy in particular.… Read the rest
The need and opportunities to accelerate the reduction in agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been underlined in a number of recent reports (see, for example, the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2018) or the IEEP report Net-Zero Agriculture in 2050: How to Get There (2019)). Following a period from 1990 to 2012 with a steady decrease in EU agricultural emissions amounting to 22% in total, these emissions have begun to increase since then, growing by 4% over the 2012-2017 period.
In this post, I examine
the projected trend in agricultural emissions to 2030, drawing on the most
recent European Environment Agency (EEA) report on Trends and Projections in Europe
2019 as well as the
inventory of policies and measures that Member States have taken or plan to
take to reduce these emissions in future.… Read the rest
There is increasing focus on how the coronavirus pandemic is
likely to affect agricultural markets, food supply chains and farm incomes (for
example, the series of IFPRI
Resources and Analyses on COVID-19). Panic buying of long-life staples – as
well as toilet roll, of course – led to temporary shortages on supermarket
shelves but supplies
were very quickly replenished.
In the medium-term, there are concerns that labour
shortages, logistical difficulties in transporting goods across borders and
falling export demand have the potential
to cause disruption. The various actors in the European food chain issued a
on 19 March calling attention to likely operational difficulties and asking
the Commission to ensure that free movement of goods within the single market can
continue, including through managing ‘green lanes’ at borders, to allow the
food chain to function effectively.… Read the rest
On 4 March 2020 the
Commission published its draft
Climate Law, formally a Regulation to establish the framework for achieving
climate neutrality. This legislation had been flagged in incoming Commission
President von der Leyen’s Political
Guidelines published prior to the ratification of her nomination by the
It was confirmed in the Commission’s Communication on the European Green Deal in December 2019 with the stated aims to set out clearly the conditions for an effective and fair transition, to provide predictability for investors, and to ensure that the transition is irreversible. It would also ensure that all EU policies contribute to the climate neutrality objective and that all sectors play their part.… Read the rest
The 2019 EU Trade Policy Review was recently published by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The trade policy review process takes place every two years for major economies and is an important transparency tool. The country under review produces a policy report summarising major trade policy developments since the last review. A second report is written independently by the WTO Secretariat. These reports are then discussed by the full membership in the WTO’s Trade Policy Review Body. Indeed, the EU received more than 1,600 written questions from other WTO members on these reports to which it has provided written answers (unfortunately, the latter files are restricted and not publicly available on the WTO website).… Read the rest
In my previous post
I discussed the challenges facing European Council President Charles Michel as
he took over responsibility from the Finnish Presidency to prepare the draft
conclusions on the Multi-annual Financial Framework for the coming meeting of the
European Council on 20 February next.
The Finnish Presidency proposal had been attacked on all sides as unsatisfactory. Yet, in that previous post, I speculated that Mr Michel was unlikely to hear anything very different to what the Finnish Presidency had heard when charged with forwarding the ‘negotiating box with figures’ to the December 2019 meeting of the European Council.… Read the rest
During the past few
weeks, the President of the European Council Charles Michel has been meeting national
sherpas to sound out Member State positions regarding the Commission’s proposal
for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027. In
the next few weeks he will be meeting national leaders face-to-face.
He has called
a special European Council meeting which, ominously for national leaders
who value their beauty sleep, is scheduled to start on 20 February but which
notably has no termination date or time.
Mr Michel may plan to take a leaf out of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed
bin Salman’s playbook
who famously kept the rich elite of Saudi Arabia under lock and key in a luxury
hotel until they agreed to part with some of their money.… Read the rest
Climate mainstreaming of the EU budget was introduced in the
Commission’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposal for the period 2014-2020
which first put forward the idea that “the optimal achievement of objectives
in some policy areas – including climate action, environment, consumer policy,
health and fundamental rights – depends on the mainstreaming of priorities into
a range of instruments in other policy areas” (COM(2011)500).
The Commission advocated in particular that the EU budget could play an
important role in catalysing the specific investments needed to meet the EU’s
climate targets and to ensure climate resilience.
fiche on climate action in the Annex to the 2011 MFF proposal included the idea
that the proportion of EU budget spending contributing to the EU’s transition
to a low carbon and climate resilient society should be increased to at least
20%, subject to impact assessment evidence.… Read the rest
The Commission published its Communication
on the European Green Deal in mid-December 2019. Previously flagged in
Commission President von der Leyen’s Political
Guidelines for the new Commission, it defines the key political objectives
of the new Commission for the next five years.
The headline commitment is to make Europe the
first climate-neutral continent by 2050 (while conflating the EU with Europe
may seem like over-reach by the Commission, it should be remembered that other
European countries, most recently Switzerland,
either participate in or are linked to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the
UK government’s preference
is that it will remain associated after Brexit).… Read the rest