The Danish EU Presidency Priorities for the CAP Reform

The Danish Presidency of the EU began on 1 January 2012 outlining four principal themes for the forthcoming six months: ‘A responsible Europe; a dynamic Europe; a green Europe; and a safe Europe’. The detailed programme was announced on 6 January by the Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Minister for Economics and the Interior, Margrethe Vestager, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Villy Soundal and the Minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen.

In terms of the CAP reform discussions, the Danish EU Presidency and the Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mette Gjerskov, have stressed the need for both a green and market-oriented CAP. In particular, the Danish work plan outlines the importance of ‘strengthening research, development and innovation in the EU budget (Horizon 2020) as well as greater focus on knowledge transfer… to support the agricultural and food sector’. They support the Commission’s proposals for greening as a key aspect of reorienting the CAP towards the provision of public goods, stating that ‘it should be possible to use the entire CAP for targeted interventions towards environmentally friendly agricultural production for the benefit of the climate and the environment’. A second key priority concerning the reforms is to achieve a simplified CAP for 2014-2020. However, it is unclear how this will be achieved in practice, given that many Member States criticise a number of aspects of the Pillar 1 proposals, including greening and the definition of ‘active farmer’ as complicated additions to an already complex policy.

The first Agriculture Council under the Danish EU Presidency will take place on 23 January and the provisional agenda indicates that the focus will be on the proposals for the reformed Single CMO Regulation. According to the draft agenda, an orientation debate on the simplification of the CAP will take place at the second Council meeting on 23 February. Subsequent Agriculture Council meetings will focus on trying to achieve some initial agreement and conclusions on the technical elements of the proposals on direct payments, horizontal regulations and EAFRD.

Provisional Dates and Focus for the Agriculture Council under the Danish EU Presidency:

23 January 2012 - Single CMO

23 February 2012 - Simplification

19-20 March 2012 - Distribution of Direct Payments and Pillar 2 proposals

26-27 April 2012 - Pillar 1: definitions of active farmer, capping, proposals for support to small farms, young farmers and Areas of Natural Constraint

14-15 May 2012 - Pillar 1: rules underpinning direct payments

18-19 June 2012 - Pillar 2 – rules underpinning Pillar 2 payments

Informal Meeting: 3-5 June, Horsens, Denmark – no fixed agenda to date

Regarding other environmental issues and as a backdrop to these discussions on the CAP, the Danish EU Presidency will be facilitating talks on the future financing for LIFE and the preparation for RIO+20 to ensure a strong common position for the EU on sustainable development. Helle Thorning-Schmidt has also stated their aim to reach a general agreement among 27 Member States for the seventh environment action plan (EAP) by June 2012, given that the sixth EAP will expire at the end of 2012.

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11 Jan 2012