Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Could do better' is end of term report

As 2012 draws to a close and the Cypriot EU Presidency concludes, agriculture ministers and MEPs across the 27 member states took time this week to reflect on how CAP reform negotiations have gone over the past six months.

Agra Europe reports that there was a general feeling of satisfaction that significant progress has been made but also the admission that much work still needs to be done in the coming six months under the Irish Presidency.

On Tuesday, ComAgri announced that from the near 8 000 amendments to the European Commission’s CAP reform proposals sought by member states, the total has now been whittled down to just 100 compromise agreements, which will be voted on in January. A final vote will only take place once the EU’s next long-term budget has been agreed (likely to be early February, 2013).

The outgoing Cypriot Presidency released its progress report on its six months in charge of CAP reform, praising the 'positive spirit' of the negotiations over the period, but observers would still probably come away with a nagging feeling of ‘must try harder’.

As Irish farm minister Simon Coveney reiterated, 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,' admitting it would be a 'big ask' to get a CAP deal by June, which is widely seen as the deadline if parts of the new policy will be ready for 2014.

Many ministers were openly frustrated at the lack of progress on the EU’s 2014-2020 budget, which is undoubtedly the major hurdle for the reform of the CAP. Of course, the amount spend on the CAP is a hurdle in the way of a budget agreement in the eyes of some member states, not least the UK. Beyond that there are still obviously problems to be ironed out with the ‘greening’ element of the proposals as well as questions about the plan for the internal convergence of direct payments. What that means is that some get more, but perhaps not as much as they hoped for, and others get less. That's never an easy balance to draw.

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