Spanish Presidency Sets Out its Agricultural Priorities
At the first Agriculture Council of the Spanish Presidency new Council President Spanish Minister Elena Espinosa outlined the Presidency priorities for agriculture over the next six months. The Presidency is to operate under the banner of “Food and Agriculture – a Strategic Sector for Europe”, and will highlight the significance of the agricultural sector for the provision of high quality produce, rural employment and meeting environmental challenges.
The first of the three priorities was highlighted as “Horizon 2020”, advancing the debate on the post 2013 CAP. This will be discussed at an informal gathering of Ministers, scheduled for 30 May – 1 June in Extremadura. Talks will likely focus on the future of the CAP as the event is considered to be the last opportunity for an Agriculture Council discussion on the subject ahead of the anticipated publication of a Commission Communication on the subject in the summer. Second on the agenda is the competitiveness of agriculture and the EU agro-food sector. The third priority is earmarked for the role of women in rural areas, with Espinosa emphasising that the work of women on the farm was often undervalued and unrecognised. A special seminar is to be held on the topic on 27-30 April.
This year is critical in the debate about a post 2013 CAP, and much of the thinking of the Commission should by crystallised by the time Agricultural Ministers meet in the early summer, even though the Communication will not yet be in the public domain. It seems unlikely that the Spanish Presidency will succeed in securing a Presidency paper on a future CAP where the three previous Presidencies have failed without a significant investment of effort and political will. It is perhaps surprising that they have not chosen to prioritise agriculture and climate change, ensuring continuity with the work of the Swedish Presidency, especially given the devastating effects that water shortages may wreak on parts of Spain's agriculture sector.
Success in reaching political agreement on the Soil Framework Directive would be significant, with benefits for soil quality, effective water management and carbon sequestration
That said, success in reaching political agreement on the Soil Framework Directive (COM(2006)232), would be significant, with benefits for soil quality, effective water management and carbon sequestration, although the UK continues to be one of the strongest opponents on the grounds of proportionality, subsidiarity and the costs associated with implementation.
25 Jan 2010
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.