The conference of the European Commission with civil society on July 13th in Brussels showed that an important part of civil society wants a more ambitious CAP reform than the one currently in negotiation. The fact that such a conference is organized by the EU while the legislative process is already quite advanced –without many opportunities to diverge significantly from the proposal- is a sign: for many actors of the debate, including within the institutions : this reform will not be able to meet the challenges.
CAP Reform 2014-2020: information note and strategic perspectives July 2012 Calendar July 13th deadline for tabling EP amendments 13th DG Agri conference with civil society September In late August until 18 September: “Good Food Good Farming March” (GFGFM) 16th CAP event in Bxl (DG Agri): ECVC present with a stall 17/18th EP Comagri: first debate on amendments 16/17th meeting of the ECVC Coordinating Committee -Brussels 19th Good Food Good Farming Brunch in Brussels + ARC- Slow food-GFGFM conference at EP End of November*: vote in COMAGRI on the four reports on CAP reform From December 2012: EP-Council-Commission trilogue for negotiating a joint decision for CAP reform Winter-Spring 2013 *: political decision on the EU financial perspectives 2014-20. The trilogue then adapts the joint decision according to the decided CAP budget . Then votes in EP plenary and Council before the summer break 2013*. The 2013 time schedule is likely to be delayed if the agreement on the financial perspective is decided later. Main points being negotiated in the Council and the EP Regarding the proposal of the European Commission in October 2011, the debate is presently moving towards : - less convergence for direct payments within the Member States (MS) - confrontation about the distribution of funds and convergence between MS - a negative list of non-“active farmers” per MS - opposition on capping, which could nevertheless remain in a “light” version - special support for “small farmers”: would be facultative for MS - a more flexible greening - market deregulation + safety net + risk management (insurances): confirmed - end of wine- plantation rights and sugar quotas: adaptation of the decisions taken in previous years - confrontation about the power of producers organisations and the adaptation of the EU legislation on competition - … ECVC sent on July 2nd amendment proposals on the proposal of the Commission to some MEPs and political groups. Summer/Fall: lobbying towards MEPs and Ministers before the drafting of "compromise". Amendments. To facilitate this, the attached notes summarizing the ECVC positions coming from the CAP Working Group on the issues of convergence, capping, active farmers, greening, small farms, markets. A note on the issue of young farmers / land/installation will be sent separately. With our allies within the FoodSovCap network, a cyber-action to MEPs is planned in autumn on a few key points. Good Food Good Farming March It’s an action on CAP reform launched by the following organizations : Arc 2020 - EMB - ECVC - FOEE - IFOAM EU- Meine Landwirtschaft - PAC 2013- Slow Food The call for action, launched at the end of May, exists in 10 languages (see ECVC website and www.goodfoodmarch.eu). The activities (caravan, local events,…) are currently being prepared in different countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, UK,…). The march(s) will arrive in Brussels on Sept 18th. Conference at EP on 19th afternoon. An “Good Food Brunch” will be organized at lunch time in front of EP. At the moment the caravan between Munich-Strasbourg-Luxembourg-Belgium is confirmed. (see ECVC mails sent on May 30th with the call for action and at the beginning of July after the meeting of the Coordination Committee). More information on www.goodfoodmarch.eu. Strategic perspectives The conference of the European Commission with civil society on July 13th in Brussels showed that an important part of civil society wants a more ambitious CAP reform than the one currently in negotiation. The fact that such a conference is organized by the EU while the legislative process is already quite advanced –without many opportunities to diverge significantly from the proposal- is a sign: for many actors of the debate, including within the institutions : this reform will not be able to meet the challenges. The gap therefore is increasing between the awareness (also within the institutions) regarding the European and global problems we are facing and the policies that are proposed, still rooted in the neo-liberalism ideology of the late 20th century. Although several oxymoron like “ecologically intensive agriculture”, “green growth”, “sustainable competitiveness”, .... are flooding reports and media and try to hide this gap, many actors are not fooled. An ideological space is opened, which should must be occupied and transformed into political space. This reinforces the necessity of developing actions/work in parallel on two strategic levels : -at the institutional level on the CAP reform to win some steps for a better repartition of the CAP payments (see upper paragraph and notes) -at the society level, to turn the framework of food sovereignty and agro-ecology into an unavoidable way for a European agriculture and food policy that meets the challenges of the 21st century. This work, in alliance on national, European and international level, can be done in several complementary directions: here under some examples: • The current rules of international agricultural trade (Marrakesh, 1994), neoliberal spearhead that formats every agricultural policy all around the world, are a major obstacle for a real change of CAP. With these rules, we cannot have fair and stable farm prices taking in account the European production costs. From 1992 direct payments have been occupying the most space of the CAP debate, whereas they are primarily the result of the absence of farm prices. The questioning of the Marrakech Agreement is then a necessary condition to open the space for another CAP. The failure of the new round of international negotiations launched in 2001 (Doha) facilitates this questioning, which is for now not really an issue of public debate. The Via Campesina seminar on public policies late September in Mexico could be an opportunity to launch a real work of campaigning and proposals for new rules in international agricultural trade based on food sovereignty. Let us remind that the regional situations on agriculture, demography, climate, for the coming decades will maintain important and necessary flows of cereals from net exporting regions (USA, Canada,..) to net importing regions (Maghreb, Mashrek, Bangladesh, ...). Therefore Public policies at regional and international levels are needed. The European Coordination, with his long experience on CAP / food sovereignty and the relationship between CAP and WTO rules, can contribute. • The European regulation of markets and production, another essential tool for farm income, comes back - indeed very timidly- in front of the stage. The positioning of a growing number of governments on wine, sugar, milk in recent months indicates they are concerned about the damages of deregulation. The dairy situation could move the political landscape: indeed, it is possible that the fall in milk prices would be confirmed in the coming months and causes a new destructive crisis. Now the EU has just adopted last winter a reform known as "milk package" after the last crisis of 2009 and the Commission presents it as a model for other productions. This "model" of privatization of agricultural policy under the form of contracts serving food industry could fail, even before the final adoption of the CAP reform, opening more widely the political space of regulation. The European Coordination can help to develop the debate, and also work, e.g. in conjunction with EMB (European Milk Board) and FFE (Fairness for Farmers in Europe), on concrete proposals for public regulatory instruments to implement. Let us remind that we have been asked so by Ciolos in January 2011 to present concrete proposals for milk regulation and that his cabinet told to a delegation of Confédération Paysanne last May that they do not wait for our proposals to work on several scenarios. • The modes of agricultural production, despite the CAP debate on greening, despite global warming, despite the extinction of biodiversity, despite the externalized costs of over-intensive agriculture and factory farming in terms of public health and pollution, are not sufficiently at the heart of public debate. Pressures from COPA and industry (Food & Drink Europe) are enough to make the EU bend. But public opinion and many NGOs, our allies in this area, want to go forward. Emphasizing for many years the issue of animal feed / plant proteins, a key theme in the history of the CAP and productivism, the European Coordination and many NGOs succeeded to turn it into a sensible issue in the CAP reform, without yet succeeding to put it in the law. Now the benefits of legumes to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use - eating up fossil fuels-, to increase carbon storage and soil fertility, make them more essential than ever. Agronomic common sense must win. The Commission, by responding with WTO and green box arguments, brings us back to the first point. The fight against factory farming and the industrialization of vegetable production in greenhouses, which continue, should also be part of the CAP debate: little or not affected by direct payments, these factory farms will continue to flourish in 2014-2020 if nothing is done. It will not be responded to the environmental and animal welfare challenges by the unique filter of cross-compliance and greening of direct payments. • Employment: while unemployment explodes in Europe, the CAP reform continues the restructuring and concentration of production. Only the proposal of capping takes employment in account but it will affect, if agreed, only very large farms. The European Coordination can concretize its proposals of linking any CAP support to active person and not hectare, and can denounce more broadly the perverse effects of payments per hectare. Potential allies as EFFAT could be approached. Environmental NGOs are still to be convinced on this issue. In this regard, the amendments submitted by ECVC in favour of "small farms" are particularly strategic. • The CAP budget: in these times of budget austerity and probable reduction of the CAP Budget 2014-2020, our proposals for CAP, where farm income is set first by farm prices and not by subsidies, cost less to the taxpayers (see estimate of FoodSovCap economists initiated in 2010). Not to forget that supply management that prevents from crisis is much cheaper than risk insurances. So far the European Coordination has hardly used this aspect of the debate for fear of providing arguments to those who think only of lowering the CAP budget. Yet it is an important aspect of the debate. • CAP, food security, agro-fuels: the conference of July 13 showed how the dominant discourse (Commission, guest economists, industry) remains repetitive: Europe must produce more to help feed the world. Yet the EU is highly dependent on imports (the equivalent of 35 millions ha) and relocates a growing part of its agricultural production, while it uses a growing part of its surface for agrofuels (rapeseed, sugar beet, corn,...). Public opinion is still not aware enough of this situation and often thinks that the EU is producing too much: the theme of food security for Europe must be on the table. At the global level, the effects of the CAP are known and refer to the first point, the one of the Marrakesh Agreement. Many development NGOs are perfectly in tune with us on this issue and Concord, their European network has moved a lot onto the right direction (see the joint statement of February and cartoon published in March). The issue of dumping remains an important angle of attack to delegitimize the current CAP and bring out food sovereignty. • Public health, diet: the tick bomb of pesticides for public health is exploding and the cost of it should be calculated, beyond the human tragedy - especially for farmers. Now the CAP reform is going to exempt from greening some certification schemes said to be ecological but funded by the pesticide industry, such as "reasoned agriculture" in France. Furthermore the cost of obesity already exceeds that of the CAP. This has to be linked to the budget debate. The European Coordination can hardly stay out of the question of diets, especially the over-consumption of animal products. • CAP and food chain: the question of margins from upstream and downstream sectors- farmers get the leftovers and consumers pay cash at supermarket- is in watermark behind the soft debate on "strengthening the market power of producers” in the CAP reform. Forced to do something by the strong mobilization of dairy producers in 2009/10, the Commission has just copied what has failed in some other sectors. Beyond the end of abusive practices of the big retailers and the transparency of margins, a real debate/action on margins and on payment deadlines from retailers to suppliers remains to be developed, which goes far beyond the agricultural and food policy. • ………… Gérard Choplin ECVC Team CAP & Productions
More news and events