European Commission Outlines Options for Agriculture

18 November 2010: The European Commission has published a Communication on "the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards 2020 – Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future," which outlines reforms aimed at making the European agriculture sector more dynamic, competitive, and effective in stimulating sustainable, smart and inclusive growth.

Presenting the paper, EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş underlined the importance of making the CAP "greener, fairer, more efficient and more effective," noting that European agriculture needs to be not only economically competitive, but also environmentally competitive. According to the Communication, sustainable growth will be achieved by the CAP by: maintaining the food, feed and renewable production base; ensuring sustainable land management; providing environmental public goods; addressing biodiversity loss; promoting renewable energies; fostering animal and plant health; increasing resource efficiency through technological development and using results of research; further reducing emissions; enhancing carbon stocks; and fully developing the potential of rural areas.

The Commission has identified three principal objectives from the CAP, namely: viable food production; balanced territorial development; and sustainable management of natural resources and climate action, taking into account that farmers often have to put environmental considerations ahead of economic considerations, but that such costs are not rewarded by the market. The Communication outlines three options for the future direction of the CAP: adjusting most pressing shortcomings in the CAP through gradual changes; making the CAP greener, fairer, more efficient, and more effective; and moving away from income support and market measures and focusing on environmental and climate change objectives. The Commission is expected to present formal legislative proposals on the reformed CAP in mid-2011. [EU Press Release][The Communication on the CAP]