Is a CAP deal possible?
The next key phase of the CAP negotiations occur in the context of the budget negotiations at the EU summit on 6/7 February with spending on agriculture remaining a major stumbling block. A further summit is due in mid-March. The Irish presidency needs a deal on the budget agreed by the Council and Parliament by the end of March if it is to have any hope of securing a substantive CAP deal by the end of June
The recent vote in the European Parliament agriculture committee was a first step towards a CAP deal, although if it doesn't like what eventually emerges then the Parliament can veto it. It should be noted that the committee backed capping of support at £250,000 with payments reducing on a sliding scale after £125,000 which will hit many farms in the UK.
Some are concerned that the proposed extension of discretion to member states (and regional governments) in many areas of the CAP will create more of an uneven playing field, undermining the single market. Others would argue that such discretion is not only necessary to make reform politically palatable, but also reflects the geographical diversity and range of challenges encountered in what will soon be an entity with 28 member states with very different agricultures.