IEEP’s Initial reactions to the Commission’s Blueprint for the CAP post 2013
The Communication published by the European Commission on 18 November (COM(2010) 672 final) represents a potentially bold move to reorient the CAP into a policy that meets the needs of EU society and the challenges – economic, social and environmental – of the next decade. However, the paper is stronger on ideas than specifics. The real substance will be revealed only when the Commission sets out concrete legislative proposals to be worked up over the coming 6 months and the outcomes of the political negotiations will then ensue.
While a number of small, largely positive, changes have been made to the proposals since the previous version leaked a few weeks ago, our overall reaction remains the same – cautiously positive, with much still to play for (see ‘Reading the Runes’).
The articulation of a clearer set of objectives for the CAP is to be welcomed, especially the increased focus on the sustainable management of natural resources and climate action and the recognition of the need for the policy to have sufficient flexibility to address the differing needs of a diverse rural Europe. As is to be expected, these proposals are broad in nature, setting out a broad trajectory of travel.
The recognition of the need for rural development policy to provide targeted support for ecosystem services, High Nature Value farming systems and appropriate land management within Natura 2000 areas is positive...
The proposals for the greening of Pillar 1 have the potential to mark a significant departure from the current system of support which could deliver a basic level of environmental management across all European farmland. There is recognition of the roles of both incentives and a cross compliance baseline, including the water sector, critical over the next decade. This is to be welcomed. But the environmental, social and economic challenges facing Europe are such that this will not diminish the need for a strong rural development policy that supports the delivery of public goods in a targeted way. The recognition of the need for rural development policy to provide targeted support for ecosystem services, High Nature Value farming systems and appropriate land management within Natura 2000 areas is positive, although It is disappointing to see no mention of the valuable role played by agri-environment schemes in delivering these benefits, a cornerstone of environmental policy within the CAP since 1992.
The degree to which these objectives and ambitions will translate into discernible changes in outcomes on the ground will be down to the detailed design of the policy measures in practice...
As ever of course the specific proposals will be critical. The degree to which these objectives and ambitions will translate into discernible changes in outcomes on the ground will be down to the detailed design of the policy measures in practice, and the budget they are allocated. The Communication mentions the need for the budget to be redistributed between Member States in order to reflect the new objectives better, but stops short of suggesting how this might be achieved or how significant a redistribution this should be. This is an immensely political issue but one that should not be shied away from if the proposals are to stimulate real change. Effective targeting should not be shackled by the distribution logic of the past.
The door is now firmly open for significant changes to be made to the CAP to transform it into a policy that reflects society’s concerns and demands and that it is fit for purpose in the light of the current economic, social and environmental challenges facing Europe. However these proposals now need to be translated into an operational policy that delivers in practice. This will not be without its challenges and courage is needed to stick to the reform path indicated in the Communication and not be swayed by those who would prefer the status quo.
19 Nov 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.