Analysing CAP expenditure provides a great opportunity for civil society organisations to assess whether CAP will really be, as was promised, greener and fairer. Here on CAPWatch, we will give you the facts and provide our own analysis. So CAPWatch will step behind the basic stats and the spin, and, using our own specially developed metrics, reveal just how fair and green CAP 2014-2020 is.

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The details used here will mainly be ex-post expenses, based on  the financial reports provided by the European Commission and data provided by EuroStat. Expenditures are annually published by the European Union: this gives us the chance to make analyses and comparisons on a quantitative basis. This then allows for the calculation of very simple and useful indicators, such as percentages, monetary values of expenditure per Member State (MS), per hectare, for specific policy objectives etc.) to figure out the way CAP  money is spent on land, per worker*, per value added and per rural development priority. These calculations will highlight the real weight of CAP expenditures within the European agriculture and to show differences across the 28 MS.

The aim of the CAPWatch project is to suggest a new approach in the analysis of CAP expenditures compared to the figures generally presented. The CAP is presented as the first policy of the European Union by the share of its expenditures within the budget of the European Union (Multi-Financial Framework). But sometimes we forget the rationale of such patterns. Indeed, under the MFF, CAP financial wording is not about investment or job creation, but is about expenditures. And its financial heading refers to natural resources protection while its main instrument remains direct aid to support farmers income. These financial rationales are crucial to analyse and understand both past and future developments of the CAP.

We do not foresee becoming any taxpayers watchdog claiming « I want my money back ». Rather, we aim to expose the gaps between ex-ante and ex-post expenses – that’s the promises and realities - to tell the facts between the 2013 reform promise and the way the 28 MS really spend both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 EU money.

The talks on CAP expenditures are generally based on ex-ante (i.e. prior) projections of the budget as presented in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). However it often differs when compared to the real, or ex-post, expenses. Furthermore, CAP expenses are divided between Pillar 1- annual and 100 % EU funded (EAGF) – and Pillar 2 - pluriannual and nationally co-funded (EAFRD). In that respect, annual comparisons of foreseen expenditures often diverge with the reality, especially for the agri-environment and rural development Pillar, Pillar 2.

CAP expenditures are an instrument used to pursue policy objectives and are not objectives in themselves. In 2013, the CAP reform towards 2020 has been announced as « fairer and greener » by many observers and policy makers: it was to provide public money for public goods. We know that MS have however negotiated many flexibilities to downsize the impact of the CAP reform. The « à la carte » policy trend since direct aids decoupling in 2003, shows us the importance of following up and monitoring in each and every MS and region.

So here in CAPWatch, we'll report the way MS are implementing the 2013 CAP reform. We start reporting choices made by MS in 2014 about Pillar 1 flexibilities, including reframing the content and the orientation of income support to farmers. Notwithstanding reporting difficulties stemming from the delay in approving the rural development programmes (RDPs) 2014-2020 by the European Commission, we'll progressively report facts and figures, but also some qualitative stories from the European regions thanks to collaborations with national and regional networks of NGOs/CSOs and our dedicated Arc2020 correspondents. Want to contribute? Get involved!

For more, see our brand new detailed analysis of Pillar 1 choices by Member states.

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