Monday, November 15, 2004

'I could have done better' says Fischler

Franz Fischler returns to his native heath
As outgoing farm commissioner Franz Fischler goes home to his native Tyrol, he has stated that he 'could have done better' in reforming the CAP. Nevertheless, he considers, with some justification, that the CAP was 'fundamentally redrawn to adapt it to the politics, economics and public mood of the new century. Could we have done better? Yes, but we cannot forget that "politics is the art of the possible"'. Fischler said that he had tried to be a change agent because that was in the long-term interests of farmers. He emphasised that he did not share the view held by some representatives that the interests of farmers were better served by preserving the status quo.

The wily Austrian has always had clear strategic goals in mind and has pursued them with considerable tactical guile. He has known when to stand firm and when to compromise. There are those he say that he should have pursued the radical option of 'double decoupling' meaning that farm payments should no longer be attached to the land. A bond scheme that would give farmers the funds for diversification or a retirement income is an attractive option, but it is uncertain how many would use it change their way of life while if the bonds were sold, the income could go to financial institutions. Logical from a market perspective, perhaps, but not good politics.

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