The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the EU's policy of agricultural subsidies and programmes. You might not know all that much about it, but you are most definitely affected by it. In fact, paying for the CAP takes up just under half of the EU's total budget; an enormous amount.
The CAP is a serious magnet for debate about anything relating to fair trade, "dumping" (where subsidised commodities are sold to other countries at artificially low prices, thus undermining domestic production and markets), environmental issues, and basically anything related to farming or agriculture.
It has been modified many times over the years and yesterday new reforms were proposed for the post-2013 CAP.
Whilst there are some good changes (such as capping payments to the biggest farms, and requiring higher environmental standards for some subsidies), the moves are no way near strong enough if we are to create a genuinely equitable and sustainable agriculture in Europe. That good man, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter said, “The CAP is a 50 billion euro contradiction of the EU’s commitment to help put developing world agriculture back on its feet, and will remain so under today’s reform plans. Farm subsidies of this magnitude will always produce distortions”.
For those of you worried about food speculation, yesterday's CAP proposals will not bring you much relief either. Instead of bringing in measures to stabilise prices at fair levels, the proposals focus on insurance schemes to compensate farmers for low prices or environmental crises, which is a bit like putting a bucket under a leaky roof rather than fixing the leak itself.
Stanka Becheva, from Friends of the Earth, said, "Agriculture in Europe is in a mess – with farmers and wildlife disappearing at an unprecedented rate. We need a root and branch reform of European farming that benefits people and the environment. We need strict and bold measures addressing the challenges we face in protecting our soil, water, seeds and biodiversity for future generations. Today’s proposals don’t look any good".
Want more info? Look here:
The European Commission's Proposals
Article from The Guardian
Friends of the Earth's Background Briefing on the CAP