Select Committee on European Union Seventh Report



The House of Lords European Union Committee will be conducting an Inquiry, via its Environment and Agriculture Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee D), into the future policy direction of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Inquiry has been motivated by two EU-level policy initiatives. First, it has been agreed that the 2003 Reform of the CAP (Council Regulation 1782/2003 of 29 September 2003 and its implementing Regulations) will be subject to a "Health Check" in 2008. Second, the European Council decided, when adopting the 2007-13 Financial Perspectives in December 2005, that the Commission should undertake a full budgetary review to be published in 2008/9 (Council document 15915/05). Within that review, one of the specific aspects of EU spending to be addressed is the CAP.

The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel, has referred consistently in recent months to these policy initiatives as representing "one vision, two steps", in which the 2008 Health Check will involve an "adjustment" of the current situation while the budgetary review will focus on the shape of the CAP post-2013.

The purpose of the Committee's inquiry is to assess the progress thus far of the 2003 reform and to consider whether, and if so what, policy changes at the EU level are needed in both the short and the longer term. In the light of the evidence taken, the Committee aims to produce a report which will respond to the Commission's forthcoming Communication on the Health Check and at the same time provides an input into the debate over the longer-term direction of the CAP within the context of the budgetary review.


Against this background, the Committee hereby invites you to submit written evidence to the Inquiry. The Committee would find it helpful if, in addition to any general issues you may wish to raise, you would focus on a number of specific issues. It is recognised that those submitting evidence will not necessarily have an interest in all the questions and may therefore wish to be selective. The issues are:


1.  What should be the long term objectives of the CAP? Does the title "Common Agricultural Policy" aptly fit your perceived objectives of the policy? What do you consider to be the main pressures on the CAP as it currently is?


2.  What has been your experience so far with the reformed CAP? What has worked well and less well? And where can lessons be learned?


3.  Do you consider the Single Payment Scheme to be a good basis for the future of EU agricultural policy? What changes might be made at the EU level to the Single Payment Scheme, including to the rules governing entitlements, in the short and/or the longer-term?


4.  What short and longer-term changes are required to the CAP's market mechanisms? Suggestions made by the Commission have included re-examination of certain quotas, intervention, set-aside, export refunds and private storage payments.


5.  What is your view on the introduction of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)? Do you consider that it is meeting its objectives thus far? Is it suitably "strategic" in nature, meeting the needs of rural society as a whole rather than being restricted to aiding the agricultural industry? How well is it being co-ordinated with other EU and national policies on regional and rural development?

6.  Is there a case for a higher level of EU financing of rural development? Do you have a view on the extension of compulsory modulation from Pillar I (Direct Payments) to Pillar II (Rural Development)?


7.  What benefits can the EU's World Trade Organisation obligations create for EU agriculture and, consequently, for the EU economy as a whole?


8.  To what extent has the system of cross-compliance contributed to an improved level of environmental protection? How is it linking with other EU policy requirements such as the Water Framework Directive?

9.  How can the CAP contribute to mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change? What do you consider the role of biofuels to be in this regard?


10.  The Commissioner has expressed her dissatisfaction at the financing agreement reached by the Member States at the December 2005 Council. Do you consider the current budget to be sufficient? Do you consider co-financing to be a possible way forward in financing the Common Agricultural Policy?


11.  What has been the impact on the CAP of the 2004 and 2007 enlargements and what is the likely impact of future enlargements of the EU on the post-2013 CAP?


12.  How could the CAP be further simplified and in what other ways would you like to see the Common Agricultural Policy changed in the short and/or the long term?

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