Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2014 could be zero hour

The year 2014 could be zero hour for a new look CAP argues Agra Europe. By then export subsidies should have been phased out and the current financial perspectives agreement will have expired.

The EU budget deal does contain provision for a wide ranging review of the CAP in 2008/9, but no timetable for reform is built into it. France has effectively locked the CAP into current spending patterns with the deal it secured in 2002. What has changed, however, is that spending on new member states Romania and Bulgaria will have to be accommodated within the budget ceiling originally agreed for 25 member states.

Meanwhile Commissioner Fischer Boel has revived the idea of a €300,000 limit per farming enterprise (what actually constitues a 'farm' is not easy to define) on CAP payments for discussion in the 2008/9 review. This is like a red rag to a bull with the UK who scuppered the idea along with Germany in the 2002 negotiations. The UK's argument was that such a ceiling would penalise 'efficient' farmers, but its real concern was that it would hit the many large-scale farmers in Britain, including members of the aristocracy and the royal family.

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