Who will guard the guardians?

It is EU practice (and legislation) to subject the CAP to a sophisticated system of evaluations. For each member state’s rural development program (RDP), an ex-ante, mid-term and ex-post evaluation is being undertaken by independent bodies. Other studies, commissioned by DG Agri or DG Research, examine specific CAP instruments across Europe on a rolling basis. In addition, the European Court of Auditors scrutinizes selected CAP instruments (here you can find summaries of their CAP-related studies).

But how independent are the evaluators? How strong is their mandate? How useful are the findings? In a recent article in EuroChoices, Angela Bergschmidt, an evaluator from the Federal Research Institute in charge of agriculture in Germany, offers a bleak account:

[It is] a useless evaluation; costly, often low in scientific quality, unread and unnoticed by policymakers and the wider public.

Read the rest

How much is enough?

The CAP has to respond to new challenges, and thus it needs more funding. At the very least, and more realistically, the current budget must be preserved. That is a common line of reasoning. It is also a surprisingly simple rule-of-thumb considering the eye-watering annual budget of EUR 55 billion. … Read the rest

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 draft report suggests 5 ‘key building blocks’: area-based direct income support, climate change mitigation payments, payments to areas with natural handicaps, payments for biodiversity and environmental protection, and green growth subsidies with a focus on renewable energy. The first two payments are to be fully financed by the EU, and the other three co-financed by the member states.… Read the rest

EP own-initiative report on the post-2013 CAP

The Rapporteur of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (ComAgri), George Lyon, has presented his take on the post-2013 CAP. Once the document has been discussed and amended by ComAgri, it will be voted upon first in ComAgri (June) and then in the EP plenary (July).

The starting point of the draft already chills expectations: “The Common Agricultural Policy has been largely successful in fulfilling the objectives it was set out to accomplish so far.”

Three groups of objectives are identified. 1) Supporting economic needs – including an EU agriculture competitive on world markets, EU food security in an unstable world context, and the valuable contribution EU agriculture and the downstream agri-food sector make to EU growth and employment.… Read the rest

DG Agri study: Don’t be afraid of liberalization

Farm interests routinely threaten that any reduction in support will provoke a slump in production, endangering EU food security, and threatening massive land abandonment to the detriment of rural life and biodiversity. The findings of the Scenar 2020-II – Update of scenario study on agriculture and the rural world, commissioned by DG Agri, strongly contradict such panicmongering about the looming end of EU agriculture.

The study looks at three scenarios. The reference case assumes a 20% (nominal) CAP budget reduction, reduced intervention stocks, full decoupling, a 30% direct payment reduction, a 105% increase for the second pillar, and a moderate Doha agreement (based on the Falconer paper, including the elimination of export subsidies).… Read the rest

OECD research on the CAP

Agricultural ministers of the OECD met in late February 2010 – the first time since 1998 – and issued a communiqué that touches on everything and says close to nothing. For once, such an empty statement is perfectly fine. The OECD Secretariat doesn’t need its ministers in order to do an excellent job in providing intellectual guidance and hard data.

The flagship of OECD research is certainly the country-level analysis of agricultural policies, based on Producer and Consumer Support Estimates and enriched by a brief description of recent policy developments in the report on Agricultural Policies in OECD Countries: Monitoring and Evaluation 2009.… Read the rest

The Socialist Revolution

1789: the people of Paris take the Bastille. 1848: republican upheaval all across Europe. 1917: the Communists take power in Russia. 2010: the European Socialists & Democrats declare that the CAP needs to be revolutionized. Admittedly, the S&D do not pretend to lay claim to quite such daring historical parallels – but there is no doubt that they make bold claims: the ‘one step at a time while maintaining the original philosophy’ approach of the 1992, 2000, 2003 and 2008/09 reforms has been ‘overly timid’. Explaining that progressives are those who anticipate and guide ambitious reform processes, whereas conservatives only tackle the issues when forced to do so by the emergence of crises or external constraints, they conclude that, ‘the reform of the CAP over the last 15 years has generally followed this second path.’… Read the rest

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 consultation process briefly attracted broad attention, but subsequently, the debate fizzled out and was overwhelmed by the financial and economic crisis.… Read the rest

The (re-)distribution of CAP subsidies

Just days before the final ag Council meeting under the Czech EU presidency, member states’ positions on the Council Conclusions are still far apart. Things look a lot like last year when France attempted to show the way to long-term CAP reform, while some states resisted any move that could pre-empt the budget review/financial framework negotiations. CAP defenders are again trying to integrate far-reaching & far-fetched arguments on the benefits of the CAP that would point towards maintaining a big CAP budget and a strong first pillar. … Read the rest