“I can not imagine to produce food and integrate the other expectations of the European citizens without the common agricultural policy.” (Ciolos)
The Common Agricultural policy exists 50 years and is currently under reform. How do changes in the CAP come about? Lets pick one single change proposal and follow it: “2% support for young farmers”. What is the life cycle of this suggestion? Let’s follow it while it goes through the mills of European policy making…
Within the EU the percentage of young farmers is low. Therefore, politicians are worried and want to change something. The European Commission, who is empowered to initiate legislation, wrote a compromised text for the total CAP. The proposal for young farmers, is to reserve 2% of the direct payments for a hectare payment.
The European Commission suggests 2%
Apart from the European Commission (CIE), the Council with all the member states and the European Parliament (EP), also have their ideas about the future. More greening and sustainable production, innovation, better prices for farm products, more intervention or more market influence. All different parties all different ideas. And what can you expect of 27 totally different countries? From Sweden to Malta and from Estonia to Ireland. Different policies, climates, wishes of the citizens and financial power. But if we don’t agree, how does the CAP reform work?
The European Parliament makes 7000 amendments
Using amendments, members of the EP can adjust the proposed Commission text. The CIE text for the CAP resulted in almost 7000 amendments, made by the members of the EP. The EP is now limiting the number of amendments and providing a smaller number of compromise amendments. Not an easy process, which is just finished.
The Council changes to ‘voluntary’
Simultaneously the Council, including all member states, is developing its own plans and strategies. Currently, for the young farmer proposal, this is an ongoing process. The member states express their opinions on the commission text in technical working groups and the special committee agriculture.
The proposal for 2% for young farmers survived, but should be ‘voluntary’, and compensated in the Second Pillar. This Council proposal means that Member States can decide at national level to apply or not. After discussion in the Council, the chairman constructs a compromised text. This is still an ongoing process without any formal conclusions yet.
Overall budget still unclear
To complicate the process there is a delay in the agreement on the Multi- Annual Financial Framework (MFF). Last November the Council could not agree and as long as the budget is unknown it is difficult to negotiate on aspects as direct payments. Therefore the agreement on the new CAP is proposed from last November to next year January.
Finally: three rounds with Commission, Parliament and Council
And once the budget is known and the Council finally has an agreement and the EP formally formulated her position, the best has yet to come. All these ideas and plans are finally discussed in a trialogue. In which the three different groups (EP, CIE, Council), has to come to a final conclusion. The trialogue consist of three rounds, of which the first is foreseen in April 2013.
And then finally, somewhere in the middle of 2013 Brussels might have a new CAP. With maybe a 2% support for young farmers, which may be voluntary.