Council and MEPs to discuss otions for future Common Agricultural Policy

EU Farm Ministers & MEPs will hold preliminary talks on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020 at meetings later this month, with a lunch-time discussion on the agenda of the next Farm Council (14), while MEPs will hear options from academics at an afternoon workshop next week (Nov 8).

The Council informal discussion will be guided by a 2-page steering paper tabled by the Slovak Presidency, which claims farm policy is “at a crossroads”. “Some voices [are] calling into question funding of some of the European policies, including the CAP”, the paper states. “It is therefore paramount that the confidence of European farmers & the public ... in the CAP be restored & strengthened”, it says. Ministers will be asked their views on their suggestions for the key elements of a future CAP. The talks come after an informal debate chaired by the Dutch Presidency on May 31, which concluded more resources should be targeted at research & innovation [see AF40-16]. Ministers also saw a need to enhance risk management tools & improve farmers’ bargaining power in the food supply chain. A French paper* presented at the meeting called to scrap the crisis reserve in favour of mandatory counter-cyclical aid, making soil cover a fourth greening measure & coupled aid more flexible to incite innovation. A further meeting of Ministers in Chambord, France, (Sept 1/2) urged against any renationalisation of EU agricultural policy. Among the major challenges facing the next CAP, the Slovak Presidency points to rising price volatility, climate change mitigation efforts, an ageing farm population & increased competition. Meanwhile, MEPs will hear proposals for reform from academics at its meeting on Nov 8, with Emeritus Professor Alan Matthews (Trinity College, Dublin) to suggest phasing out decoupled direct payments in favour of more targeted aid for specific goals. In a study** on the future of direct payments prepared for MEPs, he suggests restructuring aid around a one-pillar, multi-annual programmed CAP, with obligatory national co-financing. Savings should be redirected at higher aid for risk management, competitiveness, climate action & environmental public goods, he says. Meanwhile, payment entitlements should be replaced by contracts based on performance as well as needs, he adds. The hearing will also look at studies on risk management & rural development. Hogan intends to table policy options on the future CAP in the 2nd half of 2017

(Agrafacts No.81-16)