16th Jun 2021

CAP 'health check' not open for debate

  • The economic crisis has lead to falling demand for EU dairy exports. (Photo: European Commission)

European commissioner for agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel has issued a robust defence of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed last year - a series of changes Brussels calls the CAP 'health-check', saying the current crisis in the dairy sector was no excuse for a return to a more interventionist policy.

"I am not going to re-open the agreement that we made in the health-checK. I hope this is clear enough so we can stop this blurred discussion that is sending totally the wrong signal to the farmers," she said on Monday (23 March) after agriculture ministers met in Brussels to discuss falling milk prices.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Farmers believe sometimes that one minister or another will be able to put pressure on the commission to re-open the whole discussion. This is not going to happen. It is actually dead, this idea."

Earlier in the day, a note circulated around the commission and other national delegations in Brussels in which Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia argued that "unconventional approaches" were now needed to deal with the dire situation.

However, Ms Fischer Boel said the commission had already acted, pointing to the temporary re-activation of export refunds for all dairy commodities as of the 23 January of this year.

She also argued that the drop in dairy prices was due to the fall in global demand and not commission increases in milk production quotas agreed last year in an attempt to make the CAP more market-oriented.

"I hope ministers are brave enough [to explain this] when they go back into their countries and meet the farmers' organisations," Ms Fishel Boel said.

"So let's stop this purely political discussion and instead concentrate our efforts on what we can do to facilitate [a resolution of] the real economic problems."

Czech agriculture minister Petr Gandalovic, who also attended the press conference, said the Czech presidency intended to step up the debate in the coming months on the future of the CAP post-2013, when the current spending period comes to an end.

Fall in exports

New figures released by Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, on Monday confirmed that falling exports are not just confined to the agricultural sector.

Seasonally adjusted exports for the euro area fell in January by 10.7 per cent year on year, while imports for December dropped by a smaller 7.3 per cent, leading to a widening of the euro area's trade deficit.

The sharp drop in January's exports was larger than many analysts had predicted, sparking fears that first quarter growth for 2009 is headed for a substantial contraction.

"The 10.7 percent fall in month-on-month exports is pretty dire. We knew it was going to be weak, but that really is scary," said Capital Economics analyst Ben May, according to Reuters.

The reaction to Eurostat's weak data is in stark contrast to upbeat expectations for a conclusion to an EU-Korea free-trade deal on Monday evening.

Recent hold-ups to securing the agreement, under negotiation since May 2007, have centred on the reluctance by the EU's automobile sector to lift import barriers on cars produced in South Korea.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.


Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

News in Brief

  1. BBC and others boycott Belarus press circus
  2. Report: EU and US to unveil aircraft subsidy truce
  3. Putin refuses to guarantee Navalny will survive jail
  4. Erdoğan agrees to pull out mercenaries from Libya
  5. EU starts sale of first bonds for Covid-19 recovery fund
  6. Germans told not to 'storm pharmacies' for Covid pass
  7. Indonesia warns Covid-19 wave may not peak until July
  8. WTO chief: 'drop trade barriers on Covid-19 treatments'

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. China officially joins Russia as a danger to Nato
  2. German Greens face reality check amid CDU gains
  3. EU Parliament wants Europe to take lead on sea-rescues
  4. MEPs urged to end gas-funding, fix cross-border projects rules
  5. Biden in Brussels - what's in the 'in-tray'?
  6. Yemen foreign minister to EU: to stop the war, talk to Iran
  7. Brexit grumbles overshadow UK summit
  8. Former French PM to work for Russian oil firm

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us