The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in France is on track to be reformed by 2013. After a wide-ranging public debate in November 2010, the European Commission presented a communiqué on “The CAP towards 2020,” which outlined options for the future CAP and launched the dialogue with other institutions and stakeholders. On 12 October 2011, the Commission presented a set of legal proposals designed to make the CAP a more effective policy so as to keep agriculture and rural areas competitive. Following a debate in the European Parliament and the Council, the approval of different regulations and their implementation is expected by the end of 2013, with a view of having the CAP reform in place as of 1 January 2014.
The Commission intends to keep the two-pillar structure of the CAP: a greener and more equitably-distributed first pillar, and a second pillar more focused on competitiveness, innovation, climate change, and the environment. It intends to introduce the following changes:
- “greening” of direct payments;
- convergence of payments between member states and within member states;
- capping the level of direct payments.
The Commission proposes to allocate for the seven years between 2014 and 2020 €281.8 billion to the first pillar and €89.9 billion to rural development.
The European agriculture ministers discussed CAP’s reform and budget issues on 22 and 23 October 2012. The French Minister of Agriculture, Food Industry and Forestry, Stephane Le Foll, underlined the importance of CAP for growth, labor, environment, and innovation in Europe’s rural areas. The new European Commission’s CAP proposition for 2014-2020 represents a baseline according to the French Minister of Agriculture. Moreover, France considers that full convergence within each European Union member state toward a unique flat rate is not realistic. EU member states need more flexibility in the field of convergence of first pillar aid (decoupled direct payments) in order to prevent the destabilization of the agriculture industry. Thus, they are showing their joint willingness to choose to make some areas ineligible for aid and their interest in supplementing aid for the first farms’ hectares.
Moreover, Mr. Le Foll, emphasized the willingness to preserve agricultural diversity and, therefore, to anticipate instruments allowing to comfort livestock fields, so important for territories.
Concerning CAP’s “greening,” the French Minister of Agriculture supports this important new global CAP orientation. However, important adaptations need to be made in order to facilitate its application and to respect the obligations of farmers without slowing down agricultural production. There is also a willingness to maintain the setting of aid coupled to production within CAP’s first pillar which benefits from a generous budget, therefore, enabling it to face sector-specific difficulties.
Finally, Mr. Le Foll asked for better reactivity in case of market crises with the help of effective instruments. He also underlined the importance of the European Commission-proposed “crisis budget” for the agricultural sector. Attachment to vineyard plantation rights and a willingness to strengthen cooperation between Member States in agricultural field were also emphasized. Member States also hope for a strengthening of economic power of the producers in the supply chain.