On Friday, June 11, French Minister of Agriculture Bruno Le Maire and his German counterpart, Ilse Aigner, met in Berlin in an attempt to find a common position on the up-coming reform of the CAP. The two main French and German agricultural unions––the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA) and the Deutscher Bauernverband (DVB)––sparked off the gathering by writing to the two ministers to suggest the meeting. In fact, the two trade unionists––Jean-Michel Lemétayer and Gerd Sonnleitner––felt that it was imperative to agree on the issue of CAP reform.
In a press release addressed to the French and German ministers, the two major trade unions pointed out that agriculture is a strategic economic sector on two levels. On the international level, agriculture is a genuine factor of political and social stability: Food security, fulfillment of the nutritional needs of the current six billion people––soon to grow to nine billion by 2050––as well as crops tailored to climate change. In Europe, 40 million people work in agriculture and 500 million consumers are relying on this workforce. Yet, these issues are currently often missing from the major international and national debates. The FNSEA and the DVB are also calling against the dismantling the CAP, but rather for “stabilizing and strengthening it to make it more reactive and effective.” Lastly, they advocate a better management of market volatility, “the consequences of international negotiations and the dismantling of market management tools.” 1.
It is therefore imperative for France and Germany–– the two key beneficiaries of the CAP––to adopt a common position on the up-coming reform. It represents a difficult challenge, considering Germany’s recent reactions to budgetary matters. Just like any other economic sector, such as defense, the French-German special relationship is crucial when the time comes to carry some weight in European negotiations. The alliance’s good performance is, and has always been, the engine for the wide-ranging European cooperation that is needed to launch substantial pan-European projects, as it was the case with the first CAP in 1962.