The president of the EU Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, speaking at a meeting with the EU Affairs commissions of the French National Assembly and Senate on February 3 in Paris, stated that ‘the EU budget is now made up of three main spending areas: promoting competitiveness, supporting development, and the CAP. The Common Agricultural Policy is necessary for the food self-sufficiency of the EU and the competitiveness of our agricultural production,’ he declared. ‘Development funds, which are intended to reinforce the potential of weaker regions, are also necessary. Spending to promote competitiveness, the basis of industrial policy, has risen the most, especially spending to support research which has grown very strongly and will continue to do so, I hope.’1.
Therefore after 2013 ‘either the EU budget will increase overall, or else slight reductions will have to be accepted to funding for the common agricultural and regional policies,’ Mr. Buzek said. ‘The Common Agricultural Policy will not be renationalized, but certain changes will have to be accepted. That way we will have more funding to encourage the competitiveness of our businesses which are sometimes a bit slow in a rapidly changing world.’2.
Nevertheless, there is no shortage of arguments to justify supporting agriculture: firstly because European food self-sufficiency depends directly on agriculture. What room for policy maneuver does a country have if its food self-sufficiency is not guaranteed? Limited, at best. At a time when Europe is seeking to be a political heavyweight on the international scene, with the recent appointment of a President of the EU Council and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs both working in this direction, perhaps it would be a good idea to start by protecting the source of this power.
And if food self-sufficiency is not a convincing enough argument, agriculture has many positive externalities, be it in terms of environmental protection, maintaining economic activity in rural areas, maintaining employment, protecting cultures, and so on. All of these are beneficial to the community at large and ample justification for an appropriate global policy backed up by the appropriate means.
1 Quoted by Agrapresse, ‘La présidence espagnole de l’UE cherche à éviter la volatilité des prix’, (The Spanish EU Presidency wants to avoid price volatility) 15/02/2010