Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The future of the CAP

An excellent new site on the future of the CAP is now available organised around the theme of '2020: debating the future of the CAP': CAP 2020 . It has a particular emphasis on environmental issues, but has a broader focus than that.

Backed by the knowledge and expertise of the Institute for European Environmental Policy, this is going to be a key resource for analysts of the CAP. Indeed, it is going to eclipse anything that can be offerd on this blog or even what Jack Thurston has been able to achieve on CAP HealthCheck. He has been reorienting his interests in any case: Health Check

This blog will be kept going as from time to time I may be able to draw on my experience and contribute something to the debate. However, the debate is clearly moving on.

A document I saw recently suggested that the UK Government now has the ambition of phasing out the CAP as a protectionist and subsidy providing policy package by the year 2020. Even before the recession, I would have been sceptical about that ambition, given the strength of the political constellation that defends the CAP.

However, we now face a long and deep recession that it is going to have profound implications for the future role of government. Although the 'regulatory state' will probably be strengthened as a result, whatever government is in power in a particular country, it is going to have to cut public expenditure and raise taxes to pay off debt.

This might seem a golden opportunity to reduce the large sums that are spent on subsidising agriculture. However, even though the debate on the CAP has become more transparent, and significant changes have been achieved in the way in which it is delivered, the politics of bringing about change in the CAP remain challenging and complex. The policy will probably outlive me.

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