4 Defra's Approach |
86. In our reports on the Common Agricultural
Policy after 2013 and the Outcome of the Farming Regulation
Task Force we emphasised the need for the UK Government to
engage positively with Europe. In its response to our Outcome
of the Farming Regulation Task Force report the Government
Our EU Negotiations Guidance emphasises the need
to engage early with the Commission, identify allies and influence
effectively in European Institutions, including the European Parliament.
87. The Government has reported that there was
"no unconditional support" for the Commission's package
of reforms among Member States,
and the Secretary of State told us that in the Council there was
"a real lack of consensus about what greening looks like".
That lack of consensus is unsurprising given the lack detail in
the Commission's proposals and the differential impact of the
proposals across Member States. The Secretary of State told us
that our allies on 'greening' were "only just beginning to
emerge"; although she did refer to several countries sharing
the UK's views on the importance of Pillar 2 schemes.
She confirmed that the department's current assessment of Member
States intentions on 'greening' put the UK "...in
the largest group".
88. In the oral evidence session we had lengthy
exchanges with the Secretary of State on Defra's approach to the
negotiations and the department's efforts to foster allies across
the EU. She argued
that it was difficult to achieve a great deal during the formal
meetings and emphasised that she was holding informal bilateral
meetings to build alliances.
She told us that:
In bilateral meetings with France, Spain or Italy
we have been testing out the reactions of the different member
states to the Commission's proposals. The straight answer is
it is quite difficult at this stage because they, like us, are
at an early stage of negotiations without an absolutely firm view.
She emphasised that the department and Ministers
had also been at pains to engage with the European Parliament.
89. As we have noted in previous
reports, it is critical that Defra engage proactively with the
Commission, other Member States and the European Parliament. In
order to achieve the necessary level of engagement Defra must
ensure that its EU-facing policy teams are properly staffed, trained
and resourced. In response to this report we recommend that the
department set out how it has ensured that it is bringing the
appropriate resources to bear on Europe; the staffing of EU negotiating
teams; how they have altered over the past two years and the impact
of the department's re-organisation on those teams.
200 HC Deb, 7 Nov 2011, col 4WS Back
Q 145 Back
Q 145 Back
Qa 165-166 Back
Qq 145-166 Back
Q 145 Back
Q 154 Back
Qq 154, 161 Back