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Monday, 07 March 2011

Member states’ experts remain at odds over CAP reform

The views of the member states’ agriculture experts continue to differ on essential points related to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013, such as the future of the agriculture budget, criteria for the distribution of direct support, the ‘greening’ of agricultural aid and the importance of market support measures in crises. A new meeting of the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) is scheduled for 7 March, with a view to adoption of conclusions on the CAP reform by the 27 ministers, on 17 March.On the very sensitive issue of direct support, many countries, especially France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom, find that a fair redistribution of support should not apply to the first pillar alone (direct payments and market management) but also to the second pillar (rural development). Many ‘new’ member states, along with Spain and Luxembourg, press for replacing the use of historic references with objective criteria for the allocation of direct support, while Germany, Ireland and Italy prefer a more pragmatic approach with no major revamp. The states are a long way from agreeing on the idea of setting an upper limit (ceiling) for direct payments to large individual holdings for the purposes of better distribution. Germany and the Czech Republic have the greatest misgivings since they have many large farms. Other countries are more open to the idea of a ceiling, including the UK, Belgium, Greece and Poland, which would like to see a study of the impact of such a measure.