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Tony's push for further CAP reforms came from Chirac's calls for an end to the British rebate, as far as I recall. The CAP was reformed in 2003, but the mid-term review is still imperfect. I'd prefer to have the first pillar completely ditched, compensated by a moderate expansion of the second pillar (rural development) and a regulated allowance for Member States to compensate their farmers for services of general economical interest.

But it's perhaps more likely that first pillar reforms will (continue to) make it more like the second pillar (e.g. national co-financing of the direct payments indexed by regional wealth; more cross-compliance with environmental and social standards; a cap on per-farm payments). Which would also be workable. I don't think that such reforms would lead to less popularity for the EU overall. It will become more popular in some areas and less popular in others.

The current reality of the CAP necessitates further reforms, because the policy will soon no longer be able to fulfil the objectives nations like France and Germany have of keeping their countrysides vital, due to a decreasing cap on total payments coupled with an increasing share paid out to the East European countries. Because any attempt to increase the cap will be resisted by the countries that pay for the EU, partial or complete renationalisation of the first pillar (as in two above scenarios) is the only way out.

It will also be more likely to happen, with Chirac soon out of office. Ségolène Royal has already proposed something roughly in line with the partial renationalisation I described above (see speech).

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 01:12:13 PM EST
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For some reason I automatically start to use stupid unreadable euro-jargon when talking about the CAP...

To wit: the first pillar deals with market price support (buying up and storing quantities of products when they fall below a given price); export subsidies, and direct payments to farmers which replace market price support following the reforms of 2000 and 2003. The first pillar constitutes the bulk of the CAP and direct payments constitute the bulk of the first pillar. The first pillar falls under the exclusive competence of the EU and payments under it are mandatory, i.e. the parliament does not get to decide upon them, the EU alone deals out the payments (there is no national co-financing) and even if a budget is not agreed upon they will continue.

The second pillar is a shared competence in the sense that it has co-financing (Member States pay a given percentage themselves, higher if the region where the aid is given out is less poor) and can be decided upon by the European Parliament. Unfortunately it's not very large and was reduced a bit in the negotiations over the current budgetary framework.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 03:37:03 PM EST
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