The controversial topic of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Europe formed the centrepiece for a reception this week in Brussels hosted by the Confederation of food and drink industries in the EU (CIAA). More than 200 people, including over 70 MEPs and a large number of representatives from the food and drink industry, participated in the European Parliament reception.
CAP reform is a subject clearly close to the hearts of the food and drink industry, as it processes over 70 per cent of EU agricultural production. Any reform of the CAP, currently under discussion at the Commission and Member State level, will have a direct impact on the industry.
In July this year Commissioner Franz Fischler outlined a radical mid-term review of the CAP. Although his ambitious proposal provoked mixed reactions from Member States, the CIAA offered its support.
"The Mid Term Review of Agenda 2000 is an ambitious proposal for re-orienting the CAP towards an agricultural policy centred on sustainable agriculture, making use of the necessary instruments to support rural development, food safety and the quality of product," said the CIAA at the time.
This week the European reception witnessed concerns starting to creep in. In a statement following the event, the CIAA declared its position when it said: "The CIAA regrets that the Commission has not sufficiently taken into account the possible consequences of its proposals on the supply for certain sectors of the food and drink industry."
Robert Raeber, president of the CIAA added: "Our industry needs to ensure its long-term supply of raw materials. In order to increase our competitivity on world markets, the price of these raw materials should more closely reflect world market prices, given that a significant part of our production is exported."
"Two major events make it necessary to adjust the CAP and rapidly reach a strong common European consensus : EU enlargement negotiations on the one hand and WTO negotiations on the other," he concluded.
The European food and drink industry, the third-largest industrial employer, is a leading industrial sector in the Union with production worth approximately €600 billion and over 2.6 million employees.