The debate on the Treaty of Lisbon is about to start in the UK. It will be mainly focused on fears of loss of British 'sovereignty' and doubtless very little will be said about the CAP, other than as an example of what is wrong with the EU.
However, if ratified, the Treaty will have some profound effects on CAP decision-making. The decision-making process is likely to become more complex and longer (as if it wasn't already) which is why there is a rush to get dossiers completed by the end of the year. The Farm Council will no longer be able to ignore what the Parliament says as they effectively can at the moment.
The Parliament has been hardly in the vanguard of progressive thinking about the CAP and has got itself into a real muddle over pesticides policy, taking decisions that work against its own intentions. However, rather than being a spokesperson for farm interests, the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee will have to move into the political mainstream while other committees such as Trade and Budget will have to keep a closer eye on what it is up to.
Admittedly, some progress has been made under the former chairmanship of Joseph Daul and now Neil Parrish (representing South-West England). The recent wine reform agreement reflected what MEPs had advocated on grubbing up.
The new Treaty does make a clearer distinction between 'delegated acts', i.e., real legislation and 'implementing rules'. The Commission is understood to have suggested that there may have to be revisions to the existing comitology rules in order to clarify when decisions can pass to the Management Committee and when they stay in Council.
Perhaps most interesting of all the Treaty will bring about a reduction in the number of Commissioners from 27 to 15 by 2014. Coincident with what is hoped to be a radical reform of the CAP, the Agriculture and Rural Development post could disappear. If it was merged with say, environment, this would embed a new approach to agricultural issues.