The authoritative Agra Focus has given a positive report on how new commissioner Dacian Ciolos handled his confirmation hearings in front of the European Parliament, although they and others think that the process leaves a lot to be desired.
Given his background it was not surprising that he would handle technical matters competently, but apparently his political atennae were impressive. Let's hope this doesn't mean kowtowing to farm interests. The longest spontaneous applause he received from MEPs in the committee was for stating that he will defend the largest CAP budget possible. He has also received the dubious accolade of being embraced by the farm lobby COPA-COGECA which welcomes his intention to defend a 'robust CAP'.
He did make it clear that direct payments will have to be maintained to provide 'a minimum level of stability in farmers' incomes', but this was not a surprising stance. He cited food security as one reason, but one might question why farmers need financial stability when it is not available to other small businesses that face fluctuating levels of demand.
He did, however, rule out any return to old style policy instruments, making the sensible suggestion of a guarantee or insurance fund that could kick in should there be price volatility. He also wants to reduce the gap between the average payments per hectare in member states by moving away from payments on an historic basis as used in most 'old' member states.