The French position in the debate on the future of the CAP, seen from Spain

The news has caused great surprise among France's European partners.Some have welcomed it, but supporters of maintaining a strong common policy are worried.I even used on social networks the words " we fill orphans ".France would have abandoned its traditional position of defense of the PAC to join "the modernity cause ".

The French position oin the debate on the future of the CAP,  seen from Spain


The news has caused great surprise among France's European partners.Some have welcomed it, but supporters of maintaining a strong common policy are worried.I even used on social networks the words "   we fill orphans   ".France would have abandoned its traditional position of defense of the PAC to join "the modernity   cause ".

The French influence, some would say, the French grip on the genesis and development of the PAC has been.From Rabot to Legras , the French DG AGRI General Directors marked the policy.The 1992 reform, known as Mac Sharry   reform " has been a breaking point.Both the government and the French fermers unions were caught in the wrong.The culmination of this divorce may have been when the agricultural member of the Delors private office rejected, after a trip to Paris, a proposal for a wine reform elaborated by the services because it drove the producers to sell.Later, President Chirac succeeded in the Berlin Summit to overthrow the reform of the dairy sector, giving to some professional leaders the illusion that milk quotaswere eternal.

Little by little, however, France recovered its capacity for proposal and innovation. In the European Parliament, the reports of MEPs Bové on the food chain and Le Foll on climate change were approved by a very large majority and served as a basis for Parliament's political positions. In the following legislatures, Michel Dantin's patient (if not obstinate) work , reinforced today by Angélique Delahaye, on the role of producer organizations and competition law, the Andrieu report on agricultural employment, were important steps in this direction+

At the Franco-French level, the development of the ”agriculture raisonnée”( sustainable farming?) in general and the FARRE network in particular;the agroecology and agroforestry expansion;the courageous national application by  the Ministers Le Maire  and Le Foll of the decisions taken in Brussels; the rise of the “ecologically intensive agriculture2 promoted by my colleague in the French Academy of Agriculture,  Michel Griffon;Xavier Beulin’s work and European prestige, influenced the debates.

During the discussions on the current financial perspectives, the Commission proposed a (modest) increase in the European budget but France joined the sympathetically named in the corridors of Brussels, « misers´club2” who wanted (and obtained) to reduce the European budget. It was on the same side that the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands but, in agreement with Germany, demanded (and obtained) to maintain more or less the budget devoted to the CAP.

Some days ago, the French position was unknown. Some important civil servants gave the impression that France had change its mind, despite the messages circulated in Brussels circles by the Permanent Representation of France, who said that France is where we expect, as a major European agricultural producer. Later on, the latter was confirmed by President Macron himself.

I can give an explanation of what, in the best case scenario, has been an unfortunate mess, based on our own Spanish experience in preparing the Spanish position on the subject.

As such big budget discussions take place (thank God) only each 7 years, every time we are confronted with new fresh staff in the Ministries of Economy and Finance. “Enlightened” economists, there initial thinking is that agriculture is old-fashioned, represents the “ Spain of yesterday”, and that the future is on the side of the new technologies, the research and innovation which are exciting issuesWhile recognizing the relevance of these topics, a long educational work of these new leaders begins to remind them the economic and social relevance of the agricultural sector in Spain, its role as the first contributor to the country's balance of payments, the environmental and territorial challenges, and the importance of the EU agricultural budget return.

Once again this year, this work paid off and the position of the Spanish government is clear and unanimous: to defend a strong PAC with an accurate budget.

I have the impression that the recent political renewal has been large in France and that this pedagogical work by the public service, in order to take into account the economic and budgetary realities, has not peaked in time for the start of the big maneuvers.

Fortunately (and that's a big difference from all the previous budget negotiations I've followed) Germany, following the government agreement   between the SPD and the CDU-CSU, appears today as the main defender of the European agricultural budget, with the reasonable argument that it is difficult to increase environmental requirements from the farming community, especially on adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts and at the same time make some dark budget cuts.

desfilhes · 09 February 2018
For the first time, a French President sent a worrying message concerning the only real European policy, the agriculture. The possibility to see its funds amputated could be serious and damaging, not only for farmers but also for European sovereignty. Socrates was reported to have stated, "A politician who doesn't know cereals markets is not able to influence the city."
In Europe, the most straightforward solution when it comes to discussing financial issues is to propose to withdraw money from the cap budget.

With the decreasing political power of farmers across Europe, due to the fact that millions of farms have disappeared during the last 30 years, they have simply lost their political weight. Who genuinely cares about the fate of farmers?

Since WTO, the main EU budgets' resources haven't come anymore from taxes but from finances paid directly by member states.
EU has lost its own capacity to collect money and taxes and this opened the door to renationalization of the discussion concerning EU. As we have seen in France, in the UK and in a lot of other countries, the politician who knows how to add and to subtract two figures can elaborate a discourse concerning Europe. In the end, the debate is resumed to a simplistic "Are we net contributors, or not?"

One of the elements which could favorize an intelligent and useful debate on the EU budget and EU future would be to think over a way to reestablish its own budget resources and to expand it in order to develop other sectors which also need more European Policies which could regroup their energy and design ambitious future goals.