France, the EU’s biggest beneficiary of CAP funds, had previously been in favour of opposing to any cuts to the share of CAP spending and instead favoured a freeze at 2013 levels in nominal terms (meaning a real terms cut) – a view supported by other member states such as Germany, Spain and Italy. However, President Francois Hollande now appears ready to accept a reduction after addressing the European Parliament this week and claiming that his main priority for the summit is to ensure 'expenditure levels that preserve our common policies'.
CAP spending 'will be reduced' compared to the European Commission's spending proposal, he conceded, adding this will provoke 'difficult restructuring for a sector that is essential [for France]'. Hollande’s speech could well pave the way for an agreement between member states and signal that a compromise agreement is there to be had. Whether it will be enough to appease those states looking for deep budget cuts such as the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands remains to be seen.
France’s apparent move away from its pledge to fight for a nominal freeze in the CAP budget has not gone down well with farming groups in the EU, with umbrella organisation Copa-Cogeca demanding a freeze at a 400-strong meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
A good survey of French interests, and changing perceptions, of the CAP can be found here: France