On November 29th, President Sarkozy took his eighth agricultural-related trip of 2011. Along with Farm Minister Bruno Le Maire and Minister of Sustainable Development Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, he travelled to the south-west of France to meet producers of cereal, cattle and duck for foie gras. Addressing the farmers, Nicolas Sarkozy and Bruno Le Maire talked about the CAP post 2013, with this thunderous statement: “Your CAP budget is maintained after 2013!” One way to force the destiny with the approach of elections next spring?
A strong CAP budget … but what about negotiations?
Nicolas Sarkozy and Bruno Le Maire recalled the pressure exerted by France – ‘a real fight’ – to keep a strong budget for the CAP. As written on the official website of the French Republic Presidency, ‘it’s done, as on October the 12th the Commission has presented its proposal for the CAP after 2013 with a stable budget in constant Euro’. During the roundtable, the Farm Minister predicted the future of the EU negotiations: ‘You have security, your budget is maintained for 2014-2020. It’s not a small victory we had’.
Even if the legislative proposals regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework defining the future budget of the CAP announce 435,6 billions for 2014-2020, in constant Euro and not indexed to inflation, everybody knows that nothing is decided by the Member States, nor negotiated. As a matter of fact, the discussions about the legislative package have hardly started yet. In addition those discussions will occur in a European context of financial crisis never seen before, that may change the deal…
Moreover it’s surprising to hear that Farm Minister promises this budget, 8,8 billions Euros in 2011 coming from public money, to farmers alone. But today this European policy must be reformed to encourage the farmers to do more ecological farming by providing a safe food by farming systems that respect ecosystems and the human beings that live from them. Thus it is a food policy meant for citizens and consumers.
After the CAP Health check implementation, “Today, no one can say that the CAP is unfair”
According to Mr Le Maire, the national decisions taken by his predecessor Michel Barnier during the CAP Health Check implementation in 2009, are sufficient to justify the CAP today. One billion Euros of subsidies redistributed from grain farmers towards grassland livestock is for him the symbol of a new and fairer CAP. But Mr Le Maire remains silent however about the huge differences still existing in France between the average income support of a farmer in the Paris Basin (€ 38,000 annually) and that of a farmer in the Provence region (approximately € 7,000 per year).
Last but not least, President Sarkozy and Minister Le Maire reaffirmed their “complete rejection” of greening Pillar 1 proposed by the European Commission, by exaggerating the complexity of the new measures. Mr Le Maire talked about the three mandatory measures such as incomprehensible penalties for farmers, since they are too complex and that 30% of green payments is too high also, regretting they are not an incentivisation.
Yet that is the rationale of greening: the proposed measures encourage the establishment of agricultural systems more environmentally friendly by targeted financial support to farmers who will implement them.