An analysis of the European Commission's proposal to reform its Common Agricultural Policy indicates it would create greater equity in the way the payments are distributed – but which will inevitably create winners and losers in the process. While some EU member countries will see the budget for making subsidy payments to their farmers rise by almost a third over the period 2014-2017, others will face cuts of up to 7%. The plans have been condemned by farmers' organizations as unwise at a time of mounting concerns about global food supplies.
Agra Europe's analysis indicates the shake-up of budget allocations will benefit 11 of the 27 member states, including the UK as well as many Eastern European countries. The remainder, including France, Germany and Italy, will see their subsidy budgets fall over the same period. A separate clause in the new draft regulation states that "by 31 December 2028 at the latest, all allocated payment entitlements in the Union shall have a uniform unit value."
The CAP reform package, which will be subject to at least a year of negotiations between member state governments and the European Parliament before it becomes law, also involves changes to the conditions which farmers must meet in order to receive their subsidy payments. Among the more contentious are proposals that arable farmers should devote at least 7% of their land to 'ecological focus areas' – which they would typically leave uncultivated to create improved wildlife habitats.The EU's agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos told reporters that the reform of CAP doesn't have to mean a smaller budget, rather a fundamental revision of the objectives and the way to achieve them."We will need favourable political conditions to agree the overall EU budget, on which the CAP budget is dependent, and on which the final shape of the CAP reform is dependent," Ciolos said. "On the key elements of the reform, I don't think there will be majority opposition. I think the differences in position will be on how to achieve specific objectives in one member state or another."