Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020: Too Late to Implement?

Written by | Monday, December 9th, 2013

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an EU system of subsidies and programs to support European agriculture. It was launched in 1962 and up to this day it “eats up” the biggest chunk of the EU’s budget – currently standing at around 40 percent, following a gradual decline from the whooping 70 percent of the total EU budget in the 1970s. Based on the new budgetary framework, 380 billion euros will be spent on rural development and agriculture between 2014 and 2020, out of which about 280 billion euros will go directly to farmers in payments and subsidies and the rest on rural development. For reference, the entire budget 2014-2020 is worth 960 billion euro.
In October 2011, the European Commission proposed reexamination of the CAP and recommended a number of structural changes to be implemented in the upcoming budgetary framework for the 2014-2020 period. For instance, Brussels intends to reform the system of direct payments to farmers in Pillar 1, as well as the budget for conservation and rural development in Pillar 2. Moreover, the Commission wants to finish the system of quotas and market support as such, while putting more stress on environmental concerns. These proved to be some of the most problematic points throughout the functioning of the CAP and negotiations between MEPs, member states and their agriculture ministers.
Now almost two years after this proposal of reforms was made public, negotiators finally reached a deal at the end of June 2013. Historically, the upcoming 2014-2020 period is going to be the first CAP ever generated by the system under the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, in which the EU Parliament gained an equal role in influencing legislation and the budget related to farming and agriculture. Before that, only the EU Parliament had a final decision vote on farming policy. Yet, the sluggish decision-making process, accompanied by vivid lobbying, meant that the deal came too late to be implemented by 2014. Therefore, the European Commission prepared contingency projects for implementing the new measures in 2015, as well as a transitional period to swap the existing payments scheme to a new one in 2014.

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