Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CAP reform deal struck

A deal has been struck in the trilogue process on CAP reform: Done deal. It has been made possible by passing some of the thorniest issues on to heads of government. There has also been a considerable watering down of the original greening proposals which were supposed to be the motif of this particular reform. The National Trust criticised the deal as a backward step: National Trust

NFU president Peter Kendall argued that the deal granted individual countries too much flexibility. It would result in a CAP that was less common, less market-oriented and more complicated. Of course, one of his concerns is that within England the Government will go for more market oriented policies while subsidies are enhanced elsewhere, leading to the absence of a level playing field.

One colleague said that she would now have to change her lecture on the CAP. She won't have to change that much.

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Progress made on CAP reform deal

As is so often the case, these things go down to the wire, but it looks as if real progress is being made at last on a CAP reform deal. European Union farm ministers reached a revised negotiating position as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, raising hopes that a new common agricultural policy will be agreed on Wednesday as talks moved to Brussels, reports Reuters.

'We now have a clear updated mandate ... There's lots of momentum here,' said Irish farm minister and Council chair Simon Coveney following two days of negotiations in Luxembourg.

However, Coveney admitted 'There are some difficult issues to resolve. I am not predicting it is going to be easy. It is not.' Issues that still need to be resolved include the deadline for abolishing EU sugar production quotas, which are blamed for pushing up domestic prices and limiting European sugar exports.

A key sticking point in talks could also be who makes the key decisions on issues such as market intervention, with the European Parliament wanting an increased role, something which ministers have been reluctant to accept. Coveney said no member state voted against the revised mandate, but Britain and Germany abstained on the European Parliament issue. Co-decision has already made it more difficult to achieve agreement.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Parallels between Thai rice policy and the CAP

This interesting article by a former PhD student of mine looks at rice policy in Thailand and sees certain parallels with the CAP: Thai rice policy

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Friday, June 07, 2013

CAP reform process hits new snags

Despite the relatively optimistic mood at the recent 'informal' Farm Council in Dublin, the CAP reform process has hit new snags which suggest that a deal may not be reached under the Irish presidency.It appears that a resolution to the EU’s CAP reform process could be delayed further beyond the end-of-June target date, after the European Parliament threatened to veto any deal over member states’ refusal to budge on certain issues, reports Agra Europe.

Parliament agriculture committee chair Paolo De Castro this week slammed the European Council for its approach to the recent ‘trilogue’ discussions on the issue, claiming their approach goes against the "spirit" of the Lisbon Treaty, which granted MEPs equal say on farm policy under the ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure’. MEPs want to reach a deal by the end of June – when the Irish Presidency ends and the Lithuanian Presidency begins – but this will not happen unless all subjects are up for negotiation and the Parliament's views are heard, De Castro stressed in an impassioned speech this week.

De Castro is just the latest agriculture official to express his public frustration at the drawn out negotiations on CAP reform and perhaps calls into question the suitability of the co-decision procedure in reaching an agreement on this policy, something which has concerned me for some time.

Enhanced co-decision making has been defended as injecting greater legitimacy into the EU institutions, as directly elected MEPs should in theory increase the democratic input of European citizens, and thereby lead to improved legislation. But then according to one recent poll, over 50 per cent of British voters do not know they elect members of the European Parliament. In any case the process appears to have been the victim of growing euroscepticism across the bloc, as well as the austerity agendas of certain member states.

The CAP reform process appears to have hit a brick wall and unless there is a dramatic breakthrough at the ‘trilogue’ talks in the next couple of weeks, the Luxembourg Farm Council on June 24/25 – when it was hoped a CAP reform agreement would finally be signed, sealed and delivered – could turn into a damp squib. Some member states have said they may not even bother to turn up.

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