Britain and Poland have called for radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), ahead of proposals published by the European Commission, expected on 12th October. The two countries share ambitious plans for reform, which go against the direction the EC's proposals seem to take in a steady stream of leaked documents, which have seen the light of day over the past months.Of course, modernisation of European agriculture means different things in different parts of Europe but that idea is anathema to the whole concept of the CAP and, indeed, the EU. That being so, I cannot quite see what the point of this statement and proposal is. Oh wait, I do see it: we go through these charades over and over again just in order for the negotiators to come back, empty-handed and with a sorrowful mien to tell us that they fought hard for a proper reform but it was not to be.
Leaks from the EC show it proposes the retention of a strong Pillar one (direct payments), which will be heavily reliant on environmental measures. Up to 30 per cent of direct payments would be reliant on increasing ecological performance. However, Defra, who upon acceding power pledged the government would be 'the greenest ever,' rejects this approach.
The UK-Poland statement, which was issued today by UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice and his Polish counterpart Marek Sawicki following an EU agriculture meeting in Brussels, calls instead for the "modernisation of European agriculture to meet the challenges of the future rather than a system that protects outdated practices of the past."