The Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Contents

12  Defra's handling of the response to the Communication

226.  The previous Government, as recently as January 2010, was committed to abolishing Pillar 1 of the CAP by 2020.[389] The current Government has said it would like direct payments to be phased out, but will not give a deadline.[390] In recognition of this shift in attitude, it would seem sensible for Defra to produce a position paper making its stance clear to interested parties in the UK and Europe. Yet Defra indicates it has no intention of doing so.[391] Moreover, the UK refused to sign up to the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council Conclusions on the Commission's proposals.

227.  Discussions over CAP reform in the UK have been dogged by disagreements between Defra and the devolved administrations.[392] This is not ideal and surely cannot help the UK to press its case in Europe. We are not convinced that Defra Ministers have recognised the scale of differences between them and the devolved administrations. Mr Paice told us "actually once you move away from the totality of money to how it is spent in the structure of the CAP, there is a great deal more synergy between us and the devolveds. We all want the same thing".[393] Yet the devolved administrations' own position statement on the CAP highlights key areas of disagreement, notably "Direct Payments must [...] remain in place and the UK should not adopt a negotiating position seeking to phase them out".[394]

228.  Defra must balance its twin roles of representing English interests and negotiating on behalf of the whole United Kingdom. Agricultural conditions and priorities vary across the UK which can make it difficult to reach a common position; nonetheless, it is incumbent on Defra to ensure that the views of the devolved administrations are fairly represented in negotiations with the EU. We encourage Defra and the devolved administrations to produce a joint position statement on the CAP after 2013 swiftly.

389   HM Government, The 2007/08 Agricultural Price Spikes: Causes and Policy Implications, January 2010, p 17. Back

390   Q 442 Back

391   Q 436 Back

392   "Scotland and Westminster still poles apart on CAP reform", Farmers Guardian, 17 February 2011; "Devolved Administrations attack Spelman over CAP", Farmers Guardian, 20 January 2011.  Back

393   Q 443 Back

394 Back

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