In the internal political life of the EU the Common Agricultural Policy seems guaranteed to hold and maintain pride of place as the topic which produces the highest level of acrimony and vitriol per paragraph of debate space. It has also featured of late as the hotspot which lead to the summer low-point in Franco-British relations. Yet while the debate is strong on heat, it is often poor on detailed information. A report whose final draft is being made available to a wider public this week may help to do something to remedy this failing.
The report – entitled The Territorial Impact of CAP and Rural Development Policy 2002 – 2004 – is based on research carried out at Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research, based in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was funded by the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON).
The report , described by the FT today as “one of the most comprehensive undertaken of the CAP” shows “that even after the recent CAP reforms, rich regions in Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands will take a greater slice of the ?90bn farming subsidies than poorer regions in southern and eastern Europe, accentuating the difference between rich and poor rural regions”.
The latest full version of the report, which is advertised on the Arkelton Website as available here (see first item in list) seems not in fact to have received a link yet (but should appear soon). You can however find an earlier version (end March) on the Espon Website (careful, this is a heavy duty PDF – 9.3 MB – with a lengthy download time, and with a hefty 394 pages of reading content).
The FT quotes Mark Shucksmith, now professor of planning at Newcastle University and one of the authors of the report, as saying: ?The CAP was designed to support the sorts of products grown in northern European countries and in such a way that it benefits larger farms, because it works by supporting prices, which means the more you produce the more subsidy you get. So more money is going to the richest regions….. the newest entrants to the EU could benefit several times over from reform of the CAP. They would receive more equitable treatment while reform would free more money for assistance to the poorest areas”.
Also, as stated on the Arkelton Website:
The principal conclusion from this ESPON project is that in aggregate the CAP works against ESDP objectives of balanced territorial development, and does not support the EU objectives of economic and social cohesion. Moreover, in terms of polycentricity at the EU level, Pillar 1 of the CAP appears to favour core areas more than it assists the periphery of Europe, and at a local level CAP favours more accessible areas. In recent years the CAP has undergone a series of reforms, and some of these have begun to ameliorate these conflicts of objectives. The Commission’s proposals for a revised RDR for 2007-2013 are a further step in this direction. The report highlights the scope to amend Pillar 2 to favour cohesion, and suggests that this holds out the best potential for amending agricultural and rural development policy to support territorial cohesion and the ESDP.
Well, have a good weekend, and happy reading :).