Sunday, November 29, 2009

New farm commissioner a setback for reform

The appointment of Romania's Dacian Ciolos as farm commissioner looks like a setback for reform. Romania has a bloated farm sector and has been in trouble for its management of EU funds.

The smart money recently was on the appointment of Andreas Pilebags from Latvia. France was hoping for an Irish appointment, but then swung behind Ciolos who undertook his postgraduate study in France.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CAP budget report has been 'binned' - or has it?

A controversial draft report which advocated cutbacks in CAP spending after 2014 has now been ditched according to Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel. She denied having backed the report which called for agriculture to account for a lesser share of the EU budget that it does at present. Fischer Boel claimed that the paper was now a 'non paper' and was 'in the bin'.

However, the position may be a little less straightforward than it appears. It was a small group of Commission President Barosso's advisers that drafted the review with his explicit approval. With Barosso back for a second term it is quite likely that the final version of the budget review document, to the tabled in the New Year, will contain views not dissimilar to those in the draft, including linking Single Farm Payments more closely to the provision of public goods.

Budget Division sources indicated that just how much the CAP's budget will be reduced is still up for grabs, but considerable cuts are considered to be necessary to focus spending on other higher priority investment areas. These include climate change and the promotion of growth and jobs.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A new style CAP

A group of agricultural economists has launched a new attempt to reform the CAP with an emphasis on public goods provision: CAP

Thursday, November 12, 2009

G-21 an anti-reform bloc?

At various times in the history of the CAP, member states have formed informal groupings to address particular issues, e.g., 'the Aachen Five' and the agri-monetary system. The G-21, in effect led by France, is a much larger grouping which constitutes a qualified majority in the Council.

It become the G-21 rather than the G-20 at a meeting in Vienna when Greece joined. This left only the four leading reform countries (UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden) outside the grouping, plus Cyprus and Malta - countries that have small farm sectors and may not have thought it worth the time and effort.

It's evident that this grouping forced the Commission to climb down on the Milk Fund issue and allocate an extra €280m to dairy farmers. This decision was apparently taken by Commission President Barrosso rather than by farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

A real concern is that this grouping could constitute a basis for mobilisation against further reform of the CAP.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Budget directorate wants to cut CAP

Leaked copies of a document from the European Commission's budget directorate reveal an aspiration to substantially cut agriculture's share of the EU budget from 2013 onwards.

The paper says that it is too early to see what the future reform of the CAP will look like, but argues that it should be driven by two objectives. 'Firstly, it should resolutely pursue the modernisation of the CAP, concentrating spending where it most adds value. Second, it must stimulate a further significant reduction in the overall share of the EU budget devoted to agriculture, freeing up spending for new priorities.'

The paper argues that direct aids should be reduced and linked more strongly to the delivery of public goods. A Pillar 3 should be established dealing purely with climate change.

The full communication is expect to be published in November.