Scotland and Wales to influence CAP?
established a strong bargaining position in the development of EU
policy, particularly in agriculture, likely to affect how the UK
handles CAP reform in the future, claims a new UK study.
Researchers at the Universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow say that these three administrations have actually acquired greater policy-making resources of their own, and a clearer sense of priorities with which to influence EU policy in their territorial interest.
"Most English regions have far less impact in Brussels than the better resourced offices set up by the devolved administrations. And, at home, they find themselves having to lobby Whitehall to influence the UK's approach to EU issues, too," comments Martin Burch, at Manchester University and co-author of the study.
In 2003, the former farm commissioner Franz Fischler brought in reform to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Despite being a somewhat diluted version of the original proposition initially laid before European ministers, the reform brought criticisms from EU member states, particularly France that takes about 50 per cent of total farm subsidies.
Fischler set out to reshape the CAP to ensure that only needy farmers are subsidised, and only necessary food is produced, avoiding the food mountains of the past. Instead, he proposed a system of 'decoupling', of single farm payments, independent from production. In 2004, the EU earmarked over €90bn in subsidies.
In addition to CAP, initiated in the 1950s to boost food production in post war Europe, member states are currently grappling with proposals to re-shape the European sugar regime.
In recent years Europe's sugar regime has come under fierce criticism for distorting sugar prices through excessive EU subsidization.
Under current EU law, European food and beverage manufacturers must procure their sugar from within the domestic and EU borders - and with average sugar prices currently operating at nearly three times the level of their international competitors, this has long been a bone of contention.
In July 2003 Fischler proposed an overhaul of the EU's regime in a bid to reduce European over-production and promote a more liberal sugar trading system, which could see the present quota of 14.6 million tons slashed by 2.8 million by 2008/9.