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If we could foresee a CAP that is really in tune with the times...

Franco Sotte, http://www.agriregionieuropa.univpm.it, December, 2012

Friday 14 December 2012, by Carlos San Juan

If the current CAP reform proposals were to overcome the hurdles that still separate them from becoming final regulations, this article could be regarded as an intellectual exercise (or, at most, contribution for the not-so-near future). However, at the same time, the overall scenario is so uncertain, so subject to the vicissitudes of economic and financial crises, and so much influenced by the moods of the governments and changing political majorities in the Union, that it would be appropriate to read it out of the box.

Europe is facing a particularly difficult phase of its development. However, there is the unfortunate and substantial risk that the crises that it is going through can lead to implosion. In this case, even before the dissolution of the Union or its downsizing, the CAP could hardly survive as we know it (and how it is now being proposed to reform it). The crises, however, are also an opportunity for Europe to commit itself and to hopefully kick-start the Union once again. Getting out of the current impasse will not be based on the past trends, by turning a blind eye to what has happened so far. There will have to be a complete overhaul of Europe in the next decade until 2020 and beyond, in which, especially in the first few years, it will have to face the shortage of resources not only because of the difficulty (or hostility) of many Member States to reaffirm, as in the past, their commitment to the European Union, and also due to the need to redirect the funds of the EU towards the objectives of solidarity and development more efficiently and effectively.

After the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposals for 2014-2020, presented by the European Commission last year in June (European Commission, 2011), the negotiations on the future MFF did not practically make any step forward. As a consequence, also the process of reform of the CAP slowed down substantially. "No money, no vote" said Peter Jahr, German conservative MEP in COMAGRI some months ago. His words were recently echoed by Commissioner Ciolos: "a final deal on the Cap reform is not possible without knowing the long term budget," witnessing the current stalemate condition of the CAP.

Concluding remarks

On 13 July 2012, the European Commission (DG Agri) organised a second conference on the future of the CAP in Brussels. The event was titled, “The CAP Towards 2020 - taking stock with civil society”, and was organised to assess the impact of the proposals on three themes that are currently on the table: food security, mitigation and adaptation to climate change and balanced territorial development. On the eve of the event, Ciolos announced solemnly, "the Commission is not Preparing a Plan B as Plan A is a credible one." However, it is hard to imagine that in this situation of great uncertainty and rising criticisms with his proposal, alternative proposals are not being investigated for both short and long terms in Commissioner’s office. Perhaps, we are once again underestimating the ability of the CAP for self-preservation. This has happened several times in the past, but it would be even worse if a Plan B was imposed by external forces, and Ciolos’s DG AGRI and the entire European agriculture were to find themselves unprepared for it.

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    If we could foresee a CAP that is really in tune with the times... Franco Sotte

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