EPC debate over CAP brings in conflicting views
Civil society makes its claim on reform
Brussels, 14th February - Earlier today the European Policy Centre and the WWF European Policy Office hosted a debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy where representatives from the WWF, COPA-COGECA, the European Commission, the Department of Economics at Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Permanent Representation battled it out.
This was the first time many of the institutional and civil society actors voiced their concerns about the future of CAP following the conclusion of the EU Budget Council last Friday.
As the final decision on CAP will be made at the European Parliament Plenary session in March and the subsequent trialogue meetings, MEPs will have to decide on the measures that are compatible with a sustainable agricultural policy. What late chance is there for the core measures that the European Commission brought to the table in 2011 on greening have been stripped away despite the large public support?
Quotes: from the main speakers on the subject, “What are the most important elements that should be taken into consideration for a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy?
Herman Vesteijlen, Director for Common Market Organisations for agricultural products, Directorate General for Agriculture, European Commission:
The main priorities in the CAP reform are now, “To continue the logical line towards market orientation and competitiveness, followed by the present and previous reforms, while meeting society’s expectations as regards the respect of high standards regarding quality, production methods and food security.”
Dermot Ryan, Agriculture Counsellor, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU:
“Following the vote by COMAGRI and last week’s agreement on the MFF, the Irish Presidency’s immediate priority is to conclude a Council negotiating position by the end of March, with a view to reaching an inter-institutional political agreement by the end of the Irish Presidency.”
Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy, Trinity College Dublin:
“The European Council proposals for EU spending over the 2014-2020 period largely protect CAP spending on direct payments and market support while strongly reducing the budget for rural development spending. If the European Parliament really wants a more modern EU budget, it should seek to protect and increase rural development spending through a corresponding reduction in direct payments in the forthcoming negotiations with the Council.”
Shelby Matthews, Chief Policy Advisor, COPA-COGECA:
“The CAP after 2013 must ensure that farmers can continue to provide food security and stability in the face of the new challenges ahead, particularly climate change and increased market volatility. Greening, supplemented by measures to promote green growth under pillar 2, should therefore be geared to enabling farmers to maintain their production capacity and improve their efficiency in an environmentally sustainable way and in a way which helps combat climate change.”
Sébastien Godinot, Economist, WWF European Policy Office:
“EU leaders have created a CAP budget that is potentially worse than its current incarnation, with a smaller monetary commitment for Rural Development and a very weak greening of Direct Payments.”
“When combined with the European Parliament’s AGRI Committee vote in January which killed off any meaningful greening and proposed illegal double subsidies for farmers, and the AGRI Council’s refusal to decide on the content of the CAP before knowing its final budget, we have a regime of continued blank cheques for harmful agriculture.”
“Ninety percent of EU citizens only want CAP subsidies to be spent if they provide public goods (1). This requires a bigger Rural Development budget supporting environmental measures, and a meaningful greening of Direct Payments. The European Council has failed on both counts. If confirmed, the CAP would lose the little rest of legitimacy it has.”
For further information:
Philippe Carr, Media and Communications
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 740 09 25
Mobile:+32 476 256 879