The 50-year old Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is heading for a new reform to tackle current challenges such as climate change, food security and sustainable management of natural resources. Over the years, it has moved away from supporting market prices to supporting producers’ income and rural development, while imposing rules for the protection of the environment. Criticism has, however, remained, notably on the CAP’s perceived inequity, its lack of transparency, and its impact on poor food-exporting countries, to mention just a few.
The new round of reform is therefore aimed at making the CAP more equitable (both within and between Member States) and greener, while maintaining its effectiveness and ensuring it is simple and competitive. Proposals include making direct payments more sustainable, more fairly distributed, and aimed at active farmers; simplifying financial management; introducing new tools to help farmers cope with price and income volatility; and increasing competitiveness and growth in rural areas.
The CAP reform is however taking place against the backdrop of budgetary constraints in many Member States and the three-way negotiations between the Commission, Parliament and Council are seen to be difficult. Final agreement is hoped to be reached by July 2013.