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Towards a New European Agriculture
Towards a new European agriculture:
What Agriculture Policy in an Enlarged EU?
Introduction by Franz Fischler,
Contributions by Nick Brown, Hervé Gaymard, Renate Künast & Imre Németh.
In his new book, Paolo De Castro analyses the current situation facing European Union agriculture policy following enlargement, the Mid-Term Review and in the international context of trade liberalisation and the WTO Doha Development Agenda. The starting assumption is the major role and characteristics of agriculture that make it a strategic sector for the European economy and society which necessitates its own policy with both market and environmental visions. He argues that farmers and growers are facing new challenges, and public policy has a role to play in strengthening their capacity to maintain competitiveness and profitability. The relationship between farmer and society has undergone a revolution in the past decade, and safety, quality and environmental considerations will be ever more important factors in farm business planning and the evolution of the agri-food industry. Paolo De Castro is President of Nomisma, a leading Italian research institution specialising in agri-food policy. He was Italian Agriculture Minister during the Agenda 2000 negotiations on the reform of the CAP and subsequently was an adviser on agriculture policy to European Commission President Romano Prodi . He is an Associate Professor of Agriculture Economy and Policy at the University of Bologna. In his contribution, former UK Minister for Agriculture Nick Brown MP argues that while there is a case for a common EU agriculture policy, further reform is needed. New issues like food quality, environmental protection and the changing profile of the rural economy are shaping the debate across the European Union. On an international level, the desire to achieve a successful pro-poor round of WTO negotiations is increasing the pressure to reform the trade distorting elements of the CAP. There is also the backdrop of the huge costs of the CAP to European taxpayers and consumers, particularly for the northern European countries that are net-contributors to the policy. He identifies three broad strands of argument in the debate over the CAP: a protectionist/agrarian approach that fears the impact of greater market orientation on traditional rural ways of life; an environmental approach that would see the CAP transformed into a comprehensive European land management policy; and a liberal/free market approach that would reduce the involvement of the state in agriculture policy, save for regulation and contracting for the provision of specific environmental public goods. The three approaches can best be reconciled through an agreed concept of the multi-functionality of agriculture: not as a guise for protectionism but in recognition of the complex linkages between farming, food production, land management, conservation and a diverse rural economy. The agriculture policy of the future should be less about providing subsidies to keep uncompetitive farms in business and more about rewarding farmers preserving and enhancing the rural landscape and providing value-for-money structural measures to help the economic development of European rural communities. In his contribution, French Agriculture Minister Hervé Gaymard argues that agriculture policy should begin with the recognition of farming’s role at the foundation of the large and dynamic food processing, manufacturing, distribution and retail industry, as the manager rural space and as an important contributor to national identity. France has successfully sought to preserve many of the production-linked aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy, including the common market organisations and the linking of support payments to production levels. French priorities for agriculture policy include: training, research and development to maintain the competitiveness and diversity of the farming sector; help for economic restructuring, the formation of effective producer organisations, diversification, innovation and marketing; promotion of farm-linked rural development and recognition of farmers positive impact on land management; promotion of farming as the core economic activity of rural communities and as an engine of other sectors like tourism. All the while there should be a renewed focus on safety, quality and environmental responsibility with the strategic goal of reconnecting farmers with consumers. In her contribution, German Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, Renate Künast argues that with huge reforms just around the corner, the new approach adopted by the German government some two and a half years ago could not have been better timed. Drawn up for the new mandate of consumer protection, food and agriculture, criteria to achieve social environmental and economic sustainability have played a key role in shaping reforms at national, European and international level. The next step is to anchor these criteria in the multilateral trade regime, the WTO, and to integrate them into European policy reform – the primary goal of agriculture policy for the 21st Century being to secure the natural resources so vital for life and to ensure equitable access to those resources for all. In his contribution, Hungarian Agriculture Minister Imre Németh argues for the distinctiveness of agriculture as a sector of European economies. He recognises the need for farmers to be increasingly business-minded in a competitive commercial environment. Accession will add 80 million consumers to the single European market, and most of the new member states have relatively large farm sectors. EU regulations present challenges for agri-food sectors in the new member states, and these will require continued investment in training and infrastructure. He observes that with the advent of an EU rural development policy, the CAP has a greater overlap with EU structural and environmental policies. For Hungary, there is the challenge of adapting from sovereign control of agriculture policy to a common agriculture policy for all 25 member states of the EU. He foresees significant changes to farm structures after accession, with great challenges for small, uncompetitive farms. Hungary is blessed with good climatic and soil conditions and is traditionally a net exporter. However, there is still need for infrastructure development, improvements in processing and marketing and greater cooperation between farmers and throughout the food supply chain.
|Dimensioni||14.5 × 22 cm|
Paolo De Castro