House of Lords EU Committee launches inquiry into future of CAP

The House of Lords European Union Committee yesterday launched an inquiry into the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The sub-committee on Environment and Agriculture will look at how the working of the CAP has evolved since the reforms introduced in 2003 and will consider whether further changes are needed at the EU level

The European Commission will soon begin a two-stage process of re-assessment including a short-term 'Health Check' followed by a consideration of the long-term policy options. This will be done on the basis of evidence from key stakeholders.

Among the questions that the Committee will address are: What should be the long-term objectives of the CAP? What difference have the 2003 reforms of the CAP made and what changes could be made to the Single Payment System to improve its operation?

It will also look at how effective the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development has been, how it can be improved, as well as, what CAP can contribute to environmental protection, what efforts have been made to tackle climate change and the impact of EU enlargement on the CAP.

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is 11 June 2007. The committee plans to report at around the end of this year.

Lord Sewell, who chairs the EU Sub-Committee which will conduct the inquiry, said:" The Common Agricultural Policy is an issue of fundamental importance to the EU. There have been significant changes in the past few years and it is important, particularly in the context of enlargement, that the momentum of reform is maintained.

"There is a unique opportunity now to influence the future of the CAP for the foreseeable future. We hope to be able to inform this debate and look forward to receiving evidence from interested groups and individuals."

Martin Haworth, NFU director of Policy, said: "We welcome the Lords inquiry into the future of the CAP, both in the 'Health Check' in 2008 and the longer-term arrangements post 2013, and we look forward to providing written and oral evidence. Our concern about the 2003 Reform is that it made the CAP both more complicated and less common and our evidence will highlight the need to move to a simpler, more common policy."

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