20 July, 2007
In November 2007, the European Commission is due to present its first ideas on what has been called the 2008 “health check” of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP).
The phrase “health check” has been carefully chosen to prevent any fears that the Commission will start a new “review” of its most controversial policy area. According to CAP commissioner Fischer Boel, the main elements of the health check will be:
- to look at how well the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) is working
- to propose further moves towards more decoupling
- to propose a higher level of compulsory modulation
- to continue the work on cross-compliance
Say what? Maybe the Commission should start with a communication check of its farm policy first? Who the hell, except for some CAP experts and consultants, understands what all this lingo really means?
Having said this, this communication deficit of CAP is not the only problem. There is, of course, the scandal that the CAP still takes up over 40% of the EU’s budget, although the importance of the sector for our economy has gone down dramatically. In the EU’s post-2013 budget review (also foreseen for 2008), this issue will surely become one of the hottest debates.
On the other hand, what the EU’s farm policy REALLY needs is an “ecological sustainability check“. What effects will climate change and the new “energy scarcity” (peak oil, resource wars, energy nationalism) have on the EU-27’s farm policies? How will these new challenges affect the future of the EU’s CAP?
Not being a CAP expert myself, I would welcome any ideas and recommendations from my readers. How can we push for the “ecological modernisation” of the EU’s most comprehensive common policy?
- There are two excellent blogs dealing with the EU’s CAP (although not from an ecological angle): CAP Health Check and the Common Agricultural Policy blog.
- For a “sustainability” view on global agricultural policy, read Richard Heinberg’s lecture for the Schumacher society in October 2006.