European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan offered a preview of the commission’s priorities for revisions to the common agricultural policy at the Forum for the Future of Agriculture 2018.
Hogan opened his speech by explaining the value of the common agricultural policy (CAP), which he argued has significant benefits for both consumers and producers, guaranteeing safe, affordable and high quality food. However, he also acknowledged that revisions to the common agricultural policy are increasingly necessary.
In particular, he emphasised that the European Commission’s efforts need to now “move beyond rhetoric and platitudes, and focus on reality and action, including in food and agriculture policy”. This has been a priority for Hogan over the last year, he stressed.
What are the concerns with the current CAP?
The commissioner warned that a recent report by the European Court of Auditors highlighted a lack of ambition in what he called the “green architecture” of the policy, and insisted that a more ambitious approach would be taken when the policy is amended.
As well as these criticisms, Hogan said that revisions to the common agricultural policy would be driven by the needs of European consumers: “The majority of people believe farmers need direct income support to maintain European food security while agricultural policy should deliver more benefits for our environment and climate.”
Hogan cited a recent Eurobarometer survey as evidence for this, and also highlighted the results of a broad public consultation which the commission held last year. This consultation found what the commissioner said were “overlapping societal expectations regarding food, in particular concerning food safety, food quality, environmental and animal welfare standards.”
What are the EU doing?
Hogan explained that these concerns would form the basis of any revisions: “We have to plan to address these challenges in an integrated, simple and results-driven way in the future CAP.” In advance of revisions to the common agricultural policy, Hogan insisted that the commission’s legislative efforts have also been designed to offer greater support for farmers.
The necessity of updates to the CAP was demonstrated in a recent assessment of the CAP carried out by the World Bank, Hogan added. The findings of the assessment “confirmed that the policy plays an important role in the creation of better jobs for farmers across the EU,” he said, and that “structural transformation is well underway and relatively successful [and] the gap between agricultural incomes and incomes in other sectors is closing”.