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Where To For CAP?

6.20.2005

Much activity taking place in response to the Observer's scrap the CAP campaign and many are talking about it. Most of the responses have been for the unilateral dismantleing of CAP in all of its current forms. However i am not so sure of this as a complete solution. I thoroughly agree and more so since reading the observer report that the CAP is distorting trade and not working efficiently to support poorer farmers. The fact is that CAP in its current state is nothing more than a large pork-barrel offering to wealthy western EU voters.
The breaking up of CAP would i feel be nearly as abd a solution in the long run as having it was in the first place. Much of the CAP goes and will stay going to the rich French annd German farmers, this is obscene as the poorer new states must wait until 2013 to gain full access to subsidies. This reeks of a stitch up by the rich even within a supposed community. The deal agreed in 2002 is not and should not be set instone and in the post-constitution era everything must be on the table to attempt to move the EU forward.
The abolition of CAP however has two effects which i am unsure are so positive,
1) in abolishing CAP we lose one of the single largest funds for redistribution in the world. It is obviously not being used in this way currently but any measure of CAP reform will have to take account of wealth gaps and become a means of equalising farm incomes rather than blindly subisidsing them. If reform is to make it onto the agenda the French and Germans will be unhappy about any call for redistribution as both countries have their own problems with rural to urban migration.
2) In abolishing CAP we lose much of our food security in response to the idea of global market and free trade. While the EU is unlikely to run out of farmers any time soon, the idea of trusting much of your food supply to global free trade is a bit far fetched. Much of the CAP is predicated on the importance of food security and like in most cases REalpolitik decisions make for bad policy.
I am not a cheerleader for farming interests nor am i a cheer leader for the CAP either, however i think it is essential for some formual of CAP to remain, it should be directed at redistribution of wealth within the sector and across the continent-i.e. take more of a role as a structural fund and less as a production stimulator.
Any moves on CAP reform should take account of the needs and intersts of Africa but simple free-trade will not suffice, Africa must be afforded protectionist measures for as long as they need them until they too can compete. Scrapping the CAP is not the answer, reform of it and giving it new purpose and structure is. It is not modern and dynamic.
The CAP is in need of reform but any reform should take account of the future needs of all of Europe as well as the moral obligation toward Africa.
Free Trade and scrapping of Tariffs are the first major move away from protectionism. Scrapping overproduction inducing subsidies is the next. One must then find a balance between the EU's own sustainable farming and the trade level with Africa.
The more i write the more i realise that the CAP needs to go in all but its most redistributive of funcitons. I am deeply suspicious of trusting our food to vagaries of global markets and also allowing major corporations to force down farm prices globally.
In scrapping CAP wiht no move on tariffs and barriers the only winners are the corporations. The problem is so enmeshed that it requires a holistic solution.
RR

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