New EU agricultural policy brings new risks

Published on
November 28, 2018

Under the new European agricultural policy, all Member States will have to draft their own plans to achieve the EU objectives. According to experts, including experts at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), this may prove risky.

The proposed policy will bring more responsibilities for Member States without the necessary support or quality guarantees, the authors warn. According to their analyses, many smaller countries and Member States who joined the EU after 2004 lack the capacity and the willingness to carry out these tasks effectively.

The scientific experts, including Roel Jongeneel of WUR, presented their advisory report to the European Parliament on 15 October. The European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) had requested an appraisal of the European Commission's plans for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020.

In this EU proposal, Member States take on more responsibility for implementing the CAP than is currently the case. The objectives will be set at European level (e.g. in the field of sustainability and innovation), but the Member States will be responsible for making agreements with the European Commission on how to achieve these.

The advisory report is more or less positive about the flexibility this will bring. The proposed CAP makes it easier to tailor the agricultural objectives to the specific situation in each Member State. This will help to optimise the combination of measures and grant tools based on the current situation, the report claims.

No level playing field

According to the researchers, the downside of this flexibility is that it may remove the level playing field. If Member States implement the objectives in different ways, this may lead to competitive differences between Member States and agricultural companies. These differences will become even more evident if one Member State sets more ambitious objectives than another, despite making a similar payment.

The researchers therefore recommend providing countries with more support with both the preparation and implementation of the policy. More safeguards should also be in place to ensure that countries set sufficiently ambitious targets. There is a risk that certain issues will become underplayed in the negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission.