Monday 20 October 2008

Environmental Council discusses CAP health check [supplemented]

On today's and tomorrow's agenda of the EU Council of Environmental questions, there is one issue concerning the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union.

Under the title "CAP Health Check" - an initiative launched by the Commission in late 2007 (and which seems to have been discussed by many, including Martin at the EESC as well as a broader coalition outside the institutions) - the French EU Council Presidency has issued a document in which it describes further steps to be taken to reform the CAP. Under the initative, several new regulations will be developed, inter alia paving
"the way for increased consideration of environmental aspects in the CAP, in particular with respect to two points:

– the increase in the financial resources of the rural development policy to provide a better
response to the "new challenges" identified by the Commission;
– the inclusion of water management in the cross-compliance criteria for support under the first pillar.
The initiative includes also changes in payment schemes, favouring regional development, but since I am not an expert in CAP policies, I excuse for not trying to explain any details.

It seems as if some of the issues of the CAP reform have already advanced considerably, because in the Presidency document it is laid down that the next Agriculture and Fisheries Council (17-19 November 2008) is expected to bring an agreement between the member states on these issues.

The European Parliament is also expected to vote on the CAP health check on 19 November, the last day of the EU Council meeting. Some media report that the initial proposal by the Commission has been considerably watered down by the EP's agricultural committee.

However, when you read the document, it does not look like a full and comprehensive CAP reform that would be needed in order to change the course of the European Union considerably is on its way.

Everything laid out in the document rather look like adjustments, some technical and some political, but without much vision.