Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The EU, Britain and agriculture

Defra has published the 'balance of competences' report on the relationship between the EU and Britain in the area of agriculture. At first glance there is a lot of 'x stakeholder says this' and 'y' stakeholder says that, but it will certainly repay further study. The full report can be downloaded here: Balance of competences

The executive summary states: 'The debate on EU competence for agriculture as set out in the evidence submitted was strongly supportive of EU competence in relation to the Single Market for agricultural goods and to the EU’s role in negotiating global trade deals for agricultural goods. In relation to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), there was a recognition that it had changed significantly from its post-war origins, particularly over the past 30 years. The most damaging and trade-distorting elements had been removed and the UK had played a significant role in driving reform.' In short, things have been worse, they have got somewhat better, we deserve a pat at the back for that and anyway there is no alternative.

The summary continues, 'However, respondents put forward evidence that, notwithstanding the reforms, the CAP’s objectives remained unclear and that the criteria for allocation of funding were irrational and disconnected from what the policy should be aiming to achieve. The majority of respondents argued that the CAP remains misdirected, cumbersome, costly and bureaucratic. Environmental organisations advanced detailed evidence about how historically, market intervention and direct payments had led to negative impacts on biodiversity and the farmed environment. The advent of agri-environment schemes had been beneficial across Europe and provided a regime for conservation that might not otherwise exist.' In short, this is a badly designed and implemented policy.

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