Which Common Policy for Agriculture and Rural Areas beyond 2013?
It is not so common for French and Swedish institutions to join together to share thinking on European agriculture policy. Notre Europe, the think tank based in Paris and the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies (SIEPS) broke the mould in September with an event in Stockholm on 16 September that challenged some of the status quo on the CAP.
As part of a reflection on where the CAP should be going beyond 2013 they organised a well attended meeting launched by the Swedish State Secretary for agriculture, commenting on the state of play in the Agriculture Council. His portrait of caution amongst the Member States, with many averse to any significant changes, aside from a debate about the merits of a uniform flat rate Single Farm Payment (SFP), contrasted with the more adventurous thinking that marked the other presentations.
Professor Csaki from Budapest University traced the variable economic impact of CAP participation on the new Member States and drew attention to the regionalised but substantial problem of rural poverty in the semi-subsistence sector. Marjorie Jouen of Notre Europe offered her own typology of rural regions and an assessment of how far the second pillar measures currently meet their needs. One conclusion was that there was too much concentration of second pillar support on agriculture.
[Louis-Pascal Mahé’] added some interesting reflections on public goods and the appropriate domain for EU intervention.
Critiques of the current CAP became increasingly stringent with Ewa Rabinowicz of the Swedish Institute for Food and Agricultural Economics proposing a smaller budget, greater focus on climate change, biodiversity and other global crises and more attention to science and technology. Louis-Pascal Mahé’s vision was in many respects compatible with this but he elaborated the three stage contractual payment scheme and he and Jean-Christophe have described in an earlier Notre Europe paper. To this he added some interesting reflections on public goods and the appropriate domain for EU intervention.
The environmental theme was taken further by David Baldock from IEEP, who set out five key issues for agricultural policy in future and argued that the climate change debate was going to alter the landscape for farming more than is currently appreciated. Many of the previous themes were knitted together in Thierry L’Escailles’s presentation, which included a list of weaknesses of the current CAP. These were debated by the panellists, especially the disappearing rationale for the Single Farm Payment. In its place the General Secretary of the European Landowners' Organisation ELO argued for a policy aiming at Food and Environmental Security, with a substantial budget behind it.
Beyond 2013 [Tassos Haniotis from DG Agri] saw two key issues being the balance between farm income support and public goods objectives and the extent of redistribution of funding between Member States.
Tassos Haniotis from DG Agri reminded participants of what CAP reform had achieved already. Beyond 2013 he saw two key issues being the balance between farm income support and public goods objectives and the extent of redistribution of funding between Member States. He was not convinced that commodity prices necessarily would rise and so solve the farm income problem. He acknowledged some of the force of the public goods arguments without necessarily concurring with them.
The Swedish Presidency does intend to take forward the CAP debate despite the lack of consensus. Participants were reminded of the country’s remarkable history in liberalising their agriculture shortly before joining the EU and largely reversing the process. Karl Erik Olsson, minister at the time, also suggested that some of Sicco Mansholt’s proposals at the birth of the CAP had been inspired by a visit to Stockholm. There was more than an implication that Swedish vision could be influential again.
The presentations from the meeting are available to download on the SIEPS website here.
: Which Common Policy for Agriculture and Rural Areas beyond 2013?
29 Sep 2009
The Institute for European Environmental Policy coordinates CAP2020. It is an independent not for profit institute which undertakes research in a number of policy areas including agriculture and rural development.