EC unveils simplified CAP plans

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

The EC has proposed simplifying the CAP by replacing 21 Common
Market Organisations (CMOs) with a single CMO.

The move is a major step in the ongoing process of streamlining and simplifying the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) for the benefit of companies handling agricultural products.

Fundamentally, less red tape should reduce costs for the food industry.

Mariann Fischer Boel, commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said that this week's proposal is the most significant technical simplification of the CAP yet undertaken.

"The CAP is undeniably complex, but that must not stop us from doing all we can to make things simpler,"​ said "The reforms which began in 2003 started the process of simplification. Today's proposal will build on this, making the policy more transparent, more understandable and less burdensome to implement."

The CAP has come under close scrutiny of late. The recent disclosure that the European Commission spent nearly €5bn more on agriculture in 2005 than it did in 2004, according to the 'Allocation of 2005 EU expenditure by Member State', has angered some who see the CAP as a monumental waste of money.

Furthermore, over 90 per cent - €44.7 billion - of the EU's agriculture spending went to 'old' member states. In fact, every fifth euro in agricultural expenditure went to France in 2005, with 20.7 per cent. France is followed by Germany (13.5 per cent), Spain (13.3 per cent) and Italy (11.4 per cent).

Such figures suggest that the huge agricultural subsidies the EU has become infamous for remain rigidly in place, with little possibility of reduction. The Common Agricultural Policy still makes up the biggest share of EU legislation.

But according to the EC, the creation of a single CMO will slim down legislation in the farming sector, improve its transparency and make the policy more easily accessible.

The EC claims that this type of technical simplification is not a way to introduce reforms through the back door. It said that policy changes are happening in parallel, for example in the ongoing discussions on reforming the CMOs for bananas, fruit and vegetables and wine.

"These changes will be incorporated into the single CMO once the Council has reached final agreement on these three reforms,"​ said the EC in a statement.

The proposal foresees a single Regulation with 198 articles, in place of 41 Council acts with a total of more than 600 articles. Eventually, the whole CAP will be covered by just four main Council acts: those on the single CMO, the direct aid regime, rural development and the financing of the CAP.

"Economic operators will find it easier to find the legal text they need. Most of the current CMOs are old and have been amended very often. The single CMO will be of better quality,"​ said the EC.

The CMO can also serve as the basis for future political simplification. With improved transparency and better accessibility, a better view will be achieved of sector specific exceptions, allowing a judgment on whether these are necessary and justified.

The upcoming 'Health Check' of the 2003 reforms will provide an occasion to study potential policy changes which could help further the simplification drive.

Related topics: Policy

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