CAP and International trade

agriculture and water article

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The Common Agricultural Policy is the largest operational policy for influencing the rural environment, as reflected in the number and variety of measures and in the financial resources available for those measures. Therefore changes in the CAP can have far reaching implications on the system of agriculture in Europe and its sustainability. It is for this reason that advocating for change in the CAP is integral to the work of RISE.

The 2011-2014 CAP Reform

It is evident that the under provision of rural environmental services is the result of market failures which affect the majority of the European land area. European land managers provide insufficient environmental ‘goods’ and and too many environmental ‘bads’.

A constructive way to look at these failures is to view them as public environmental services which could be delivered by suitably incentivised land managers and CAP is an effective tool which the EU had at its disposal for steering the EU towards a more sustainable management of these public goods.

In 2009, RISE put together a high level task force whose remit was to consider the delivery of public goods by land-managers and priorities for their public and private support in Europe. RISE used the resulting report to advocate for policy makers to use the next CAP reform to support the greater provision of public goods.

The 2011-2014 CAP reform process was a key moment for policy makers to use the agricultural policy to support the better provision of ecosystem services and RISE worked tirelessly during the reform process to advocate for a focus on public goods. However, despite the work of RISE and that of many others, the reform was felt to be a missed opportunity. It went little way to achieving its greening targets and resulted in creating an even more complex bureaucracy.

Click here to see 'Concrete tools for delivery of public goods within the next CAP (2011)'.

Post the CAP Reform

It is generally acknowledged that the prime challenges facing EU agriculture post 2020 will still be to improve productivity to help ensure food security at a lower resource cost; to respond to growing environmental and sustainability requirements; and to contribute to reasonable living standards for primary producers who will have to cope with price volatility, including that arising from the effects of climate change.

Click here to see recent discussions at RISE on the CAP

In addition, the RISE Foundation report on Sustainable Intensification brought up some key questions to think about in advance of the next CAP reform. These include:

• Was the strategy of greening pillar 1 a mistake?
• Has the dilution of greening drained it of impact? Should cross compliance and greening conditions be strengthened?
• Should environmental payments be results-based rather than prescriptive?
• Are the principles which underlie the determination of payment rates for environmental services correct?
• If environmental land management contracts with individual farmers are too costly to administer would it help to operate instead through collectives of farmers at higher, landscape or river catchment scale?
• Is a common European policy for integrating environment into agricultural practice the wrong basis through which to operate, should this be devolved to Member States?
• Are there alternative ways, outside the CAP, for achieving delivery of the environmental services from agriculture? Is more strongly enforced environmental regulation a major part of the answer?

Click here to see the report on Sustainable Intensification

Previous RISE communications on the CAP and its reforms 

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