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Richard Barker

‘It’s a done deal!

In the past few days authoritative publications have made it quite clear that the reforms of the CAP remain far from being settled.

“CAP reform deal – not out of the woods yet”

“Farm council Ministers to tweak mandate giving very little away to MEPs” said AgraFacts on 18 and 23 September.

Farmers Weekly recently headed an article “CAP greening needs quick agreement”.

The clear impression being given was that there was a danger that agreement was not possible which would delay a final compromise beyond 2015. 

I arrived in Brussels on 24 September with a number of meetings arranged to discuss the evolving reforms.  That evening a compromise agreement was reached between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission which means that continuing uncertainty about these reforms has been replaced by certainty in the sense that there will be no more negotiations in this round, and the legislative requirements which give effect to the compromise are already in the process of being drafted.  A number of the proposals originally submitted by the Commission have been watered down and, at the time of writing, it is not possible to clearly define what these are but those details will only be a few days away.  One of the consequences of course of reaching this compromise which includes the Rural Development Policy means that the new Environmental Scheme which will replace ESA’s and HLS can now be worked on by each Member State.

When the details of these reforms as now agreed emerge there may be seen as creating an uncommon  agricultural policy, such are the derogations that have been made and accepted.

My immediate discussions which occurred almost immediately after the compromise was reached clearly show a very significant meeting of both technical minds and political views.

The most troublesome of issues in the reform process was the budget which has effectively remained as agreed many months ago.

It was said to be at that the views put forward which have now resulted in a final agreement being achieved have come, not only from officials within Brussels, and Member States, but politicians, lobbyists and interested groups fighting their own corner – which is precisely why I continue to develop my Brussels connections.’

Richard Barker is a practising consultant, specialising in agricultural law at , solicitors in Ipswich

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