Podcast: Neil Parish MEP on today's health check vote

Neil Parish MEPThe European Parliament today votes on the CAP health check. I spoke with Neil Parish MEP (pictured right), who represents the largely rural constituency of South West England and is a farmer himself. He also chairs the Parliament’s agriculture committee, which drafted the report that is being voted on today. Perhaps unusually for a committee chairman, Neil will be voting against his own committee’s report. We discuss the key issues in the health check end-game and the role of the Parliament, the prospects for the CAP reform in the EU budget review and the positive effect of the fall of sterling for UK farmers.… Read the rest

Podcast: Neil Parish MEP on today’s health check vote

Neil Parish MEPThe European Parliament today votes on the CAP health check. I spoke with Neil Parish MEP (pictured right), who represents the largely rural constituency of South West England and is a farmer himself. He also chairs the Parliament’s agriculture committee, which drafted the report that is being voted on today. Perhaps unusually for a committee chairman, Neil will be voting against his own committee’s report. We discuss the key issues in the health check end-game and the role of the Parliament, the prospects for the CAP reform in the EU budget review and the positive effect of the fall of sterling for UK farmers.… Read the rest

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.… Read the rest

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 300 responses including position papers from each of the twenty-seven member states along with NGOs, universities, regional and local governments, think tanks, lobby groups and businesses. It is clear that Grybauskaité is no friend of the Common Agricultural Policy, especially its €30 billion in direct payments.… Read the rest

Turkeys vote for Christmas

By approving a set of proposals to water down the already modest Commission proposals for the health check, the agriculture committee of the European Parliament has reinforced its reputation for thinking rooted firmly in the past and largely captured by the narrow set of producer interests who do well from the CAP status quo. As I have argued before, the lack of ambition of the health check is playing into the hands of the growing number of those who would like to see the CAP swept away altogether.… Read the rest

Free market think tank weighs in on CAP reform

The European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) is a rare creature among Brussels think tanks: first, it advances a strong free trade agenda and second, it does not rely on EU institutions for its funding (its website says that its ‘base funding’ comes from the Free Enterprise Foundation in Sweden). Earlier in the summer EPICE published a briefing paper about the CAP written by Valentin Zahrnt. There’s not a whole lot new in the paper and there is a lot in common with a policy brief I wrote for the Centre for European Reform back in December 2005. The author comes down firmly on the non-trade-distorting, public money for public goods agenda advanced most strongly by Sweden, Denmark and the UK (and more moderately by the Netherlands).… Read the rest

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 more room you give to bureaucrats who make the decisions. Non-targeted payments give more power to farmers.”

In case it’s not clear, Mr Gandalovic was making the case against targeted payments. In doing so, perhaps inadvertently, he touched on a question that goes to the very heart of the debate about the future of the CAP: the extent to which the CAP’s 54 billion euros of annual public expenditure should be targeted on clearly defined objectives and measurable outcomes.… Read the rest

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, Berlaymole is barely able to contain his excitement. … Read the rest