CAP reform and the WTO agreement on agriculture
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CTA. 2003. CAP reform and the WTO agreement on agriculture. Agritrade, March 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52936
Addressing the US Congress on February 5th 2003 Commissioner Fischler set out...
Addressing the US Congress on February 5th 2003 Commissioner Fischler set out the link between the EU's reform of the CAP and the EU's approach to the WTO agreement on agriculture. He claimed that EU policy has been 'gradually but consistently changing' and that there has been 'a clear move away from the most trade- and production-distorting measures of support'. He maintained that the EU was pursuing a policy of 'support of our farmers while further reducing trade distortion and production distortion'. He pointed out that the EU budget would only increase 1% per annum between 2006 and 2013, despite a 50% increase in the number of farmers to be assisted as a result of enlargement, and that the most important element of reform was 'a total decoupling of direct aid from production' and an increased emphasis on rural development. Against this background of CAP reform Commissioner Fischler maintained that EU proposals in the WTO 'take full account of the interests of the most important group of countries in the negotiations, the developing countries' He maintained that EU proposals did this by proposing increased access for developing country products and additional flexibility for developing countries in implementing their commitments. He also forcefully argued for the accommodation of non-trade concerns in any agricultural agreement, maintaining that this was not simply a ruse to hide increased farm expenditures. Having criticised US proposals, Commissioner Fischler closed by emphasising that both the USA and the EU will want to 'continue to support farmers and rural areas for the foreseeable future' and that therefore it was important to find common ground on this issue. Comment: Commissioner Fischler's statement on the move towards 'a total decoupling of direct aid from production' stands in distinct contrast to the assurances given to EU agriculture ministers only a few days before that the process of de-coupling support will be limited where 'there is a genuine risk of production dropping to unacceptable levels'. Clearly when talking to a domestic audience the Commissioner places a somewhat different emphasis on the overall trajectory of CAP reform. The emphasis on finding common ground, given a continued desire of the EU and USA to support farmers and rural areas, provides some indication of where a consensus could lie in their approaches to the WTO agricultural negotiations.