Dr. Pierre Bascou (DG Agriculture & Rural Development, EU Commission) was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s ‘CAP 2014: Impetus, Impact and Implementation’ event, hosted by Teagasc at its Business Centre in North Dublin.

His presentation focussed on a cross-country impact assessment of the current CAP reform.

Courtesy of Dr Bascou’s initial comments he confirmed that the recently agreed CAP reform package had been devised on the back of three main principles. These are the provision of effective support to producers plus the delivery of goods, in terms of improving environmental standards and conservation values within rural areas. Tying in with both of these will be the greater integration of Pillar 1 and 2 support strategies.

“The new measures also recognise the need for greater flexibility at national and regional level, when it comes to the implementation of the amended support policies,” he added.

“Flexibility is good thing, as it will allow individual regions to implement the CAP measures in ways that best meet their needs. However, it will make the job of Brussels in monitoring their implementation all the more difficult.”

Commenting on the possible influence of the new CAP measures, Dr Bascou pointed out that the impact of greening will be minimal in Ireland.

“At a European level, the measure will help to improve soil quality. This will be achieved on the back of greater biodiversity within soils.
Referring to the impact of the new Small Farmers’ scheme, the Commission representative confirmed that only 10% of Irish farmers will be eligible to apply.

“However, in Eastern Europe and Italy this figure may well rise to 40%.”

The Commission representative also pointed out that the scope for a reintroduction of coupled payments under the new CAP measures is significant.

“In theory the figure involved could rise from the current 5% of the Pillar 1 budget, up to 13%. However, this will be diluted down, given that the UK and Germany have confirmed that they will not be introducing coupled payments at all over the coming years.
On the subject of external convergence, involving the distribution of CAP funds between member states, Dr Bascou said that this was not a clear cut issue. He indicated that a clearly defined movement of funds East:West will not take place as the issue has more to do with the relative standard of living in each EU member state.

Where internal convergence is concerned, ie the movement to a flat rate area based payment systems within member states, it will take a number of years for this to be fully assessed – given the differing speeds of approach chosen by individual member states on this matter.

Co-written with Ciaran Moran