European Parliament Amends Lyon Report

MEPs voted in favour of George Lyon’s own-initiative report on the future of the CAP at a Plenary session in Strasbourg last on 8 July. The report, which was positively received by the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee (COMAGRI) on 15 June, was adopted following an additional last minute amendment broadening the issues that should be defined as public goods to include food security and food safety.

Since the adoption of the text by COMAGRI last month, the additional amendment (Paragraph 6), tabled by the European People’s Party clarifies which public goods should be the focus of a future CAP. The paragraph ‘recalls that agriculture has always been a producer of public goods’, and stresses that so called ‘first-generation’ public goods (such as food security and food safety) should continue to provide a core rationale for the CAP, alongside ‘second-generation’ public goods (such as the environment or animal welfare). The report goes on to highlight that ‘unless sustainable (economically, socially and environmentally viable in the long term) farming activity continues across the EU, the provision of public goods will be at risk’.

The last minute amendment to re-emphasise the role of the CAP in ensuring ongoing food security and food safety, particularly by referring to them as public goods, is extremely unhelpful...

While the report specifically highlights that addressing environmental concerns should continue to be a core objective of the CAP, the amendment goes on to state that they are ‘complementary to the first generation goods and should therefore not replace them’. This distinction is significant as it broadens the definition of public goods, and suggests that food security and food safety issues are just as deserving of public support as environmental or ‘second generation’ public goods. The Parliament’s position reinforces that of many Member States, such as France, who have been arguing for a continuation of the status quo for the CAP post-2013. The motion for this amendment passed through the Parliament with a vote of 356 for, 219 against and 18 abstentions with the majority of opposition coming from the Socialist and Democrat, and Greens/EFA parties.

From an environmental perspective, this last minute amendment to re-emphasise the role of the CAP in ensuring ongoing food security and food safety, particularly by referring to them as public goods, is extremely unhelpful. It dilutes and confuses the public goods concept, adds unnecessary complexity by referring to ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation’ public goods and weakens the arguments for prioritising the environment in a future system of support, by providing certain Member States with the opportunity to justify the status quo under the banner of the public goods agenda.

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PUBLICATION DATE

21 Jul 2010

AUTHOR

IEEP

FURTHER INFORMATION

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.


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