The European Commission yesterday [Wednesday] formally tabled the most revolutionary changes ever proposed for the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

If agreed, the proposed changes would effectively end Brussels’ traditional method of subsidising farmers according to production and instead paying them a fixed sum based on farm size. Brussels said the proposed “de-coupling” would raise farm incomes and make European agriculture simpler, more competitive and more defensible in the ongoing World Trade Organisation agricultural talks.

In effect the Commission has stuck to the approach outlined in its mid-term review of the CAP last year in spite of opposition to them by farming organisations and by some Member States, notably France. A lengthy and bitter struggle to get the reforms agreed is now expected.