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|19 October 2011|
With the support of Mr. Giovanni La Via, MEP, and Mr. Carlo Fidanza, MEP, on 19th of October, in the EP, OPERA organized
its 5th Roundtable on CAP Reform to address one of the major themes of the reform – greening measures for the European agriculture. Participants were asked to contribute to defining how much greening makes theCAP green as a policy.
The concept reflection paper elaborated by OPERA, and distributed to participants, was aiming to ask the right questions about this process. Prof. Ettore Capri, who presented the concept paper of OPERA, underlined the need to focus on discussing social, economic and environmental aspects together when debating about policy. He mentioned that a “bad greening” for the CAP needs to be avoided and discussed if it is appropriate to be more focused on the environmental problems without consider the economic problem that farmers have to face in this particular moment.
As a main feature of the document OPERA proposed a conceptual model to measure sustainability to be included in the policy so that the progress of European agriculture is captured and communicated to the public. The conceptual “+/-“ model is based on two categories of indicators, the first to capture the positive developments in usingresources (where indicators would need to be maximized) and the second to capture reduced impact of agricultural activities (where indicators would need to be minimized).
Prof. Paolo De Castro stated the reemergence of the food security issue; the challenge now is how to guarantee food security, in a situation of resource scarcity. The reform of the CAP should not fall into the trap of jeopardizing the production potential of Europe and its ability to supply the markets with food in the requested quantity and quality. He summarized the debates in the EP while the second report was drafted saying that the majority of the MEPs would support a greening of the policy but not at all costs.
MEP McGuinness, shared the same needed caution in the reform process as to ensure that at the end we will have a positive impact on agriculture, consumers and on thegeneral state of food security. While endorsing the objectives of sustainability, she underlined the necessity to acknowledge the economic consideration on agriculture and to ensure that farming is viable as a business so as to guarantee the presence of the farmers as managers of the environment. A greater emphasis is to be put on research and knowledge transfer so as to develop new and innovative production methods.
In this context, Ms. Shelby Matthews suggested that the focus of the CAP should not be on how farmers produce but how productive the farmers are. The solution proposed by Ms. Matthews is not the greening but a green growth: this approach aims to harmonize economic growth and sustainable use of environmental resources.
For the European Commission, competitiveness and effectiveness are the key words for the future of the CAP, as underlined by Mr. Pierre Bascou. In the same time he pointed out that the environmental challenges need to be taken into account in the policy. According to the Commission, the present proposals will allow to produce a positive impact on the environment without affecting the productive capacity.
Mr. Giulio De Capitani expressed the need for further simplification, subsidiarity and flexibility of the CAP with a major focus on strength of sustainable competitiveness. About greening in particular, the first simulations show that 1/3 of the farmers would not be able to meet the requirements of the ‘greening’. The agriculture of the plans will have a reduction of the payment up to 80% especially in sector like rice and cattle, without interest to ask for payment nor base nor greening. Large part of the region is at risk to be left to an intensive agriculture without cross-compliance effects not only greening effects. 10.000.000 of Lombardy’s taxpayers will not probably agree with a CAP that will not create perceptible added value in a territory impacted by an unbalance urbanization without contrast in an agriculture sector sustained by CAP.
Ms. Susanne Langutth expressed the point of view of the food industry. Langutth underlined the importance that the CAP has not only on the agricultural sector but in all the food chain and consumers. For this reason the CAP should promote research and innovation to increase the productivity of the farmers and to create a sustainable agriculture.
Another controversial point raised up on the discussion was the effectively application of the CAP. De Castro analyzed the situation of some countries, as Italy France and Spain, which have not followed the regionalization process. For that reason, the application of the CAP will be difficult.
De Castro closed the roundtable with optimism regarding the new CAP: “We should not be in rush to reform the CAP, we are creating the CAP of the future, we want to make it in a good way and we cannot fail on that!”