For all the talk of a drive towards simplification, complexity is a built in feature of the Common Agricultural Policy. It makes it more difficult for critics to assess what the real effects of decisions are. It becomes more challenging to mount a sustained and informed critique.
Bringing agriculture into the co-decision mechanism at the European Parliament was unavoidable given that it was a supposed boost to democracy, but an alternative narrative would be that it gave more opportunities for special interests to defend the status quo.
MEPs have tabled no less than 7,415 amendments to the proposed 2014 reform of the CAP before departing for their long summer recess. It will take until September just to translate them.
With 2,292 amendments on direct payments to farmers alone, changes are proposed to almost every part of the Commission's proposals. There are those who wonder whether the sheer volume of amendments is a deliberate strategy on the part of some member states to defend the status quo. France, Germany and Italy come to mind.
It is going to be difficult to complete the reform process on time. Moreover, what was a less than radical reform in the first place is going to be watered down even further.