The European Commission today (18 November) released its long-awaited reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy and confirmed it favours incremental change – preserving the essence of the policy and its food production subsidies.

The policy paper confirms a policy switch from the pro-market previous agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel to her more conservative replacement Romania’s Dacian Ciolos. A Commission communiqué said the paper “foresees the maintenance of the current system”.

Ciolos’ aim is to make the current CAP work better, be more efficient in channelling money to working food producers and making it more comprehensible to the public.

The paper gives three options for further consultation, a tinkering approach, a wholesale switch to market liberalisation and practical reforms to the current system. Although he does not explicitly say so, Ciolos’ paper clearly favours the latter, summarised as “making the CAP greener, fairer, more efficient, and more effective”.

The policy supports for instance “streamlining and simplifying measures” to market intervention to protect food prices. Elsewhere, on direct payments to food producers, the paper wants “a redistribution, redesign and better targeting of the support”.

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