International organizations, academics
and advocacy groups have argued that protectionist trade barriers,
trade-distorting domestic support and export subsidies by
many governments of the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD) have had very negative consequences
on the economies of both developing and developed countries.
The CAP-related agriculture and trade policies that lead to
overproduction and dumping of EU agricultural products are
said to undermine the livelihoods of millions of farmers in
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards are becoming increasingly
important in regard to market access. Many poor producers
of livestock and livestock products are unable to access the
EU market because they cannot meet the high SPS standards.
The enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 member states in
May 2004 will be very significant for the future of the CAP.
Concerns about how to pay for the CAP after the less affluent
central and eastern European accession countries join the
EU led to an agreement to limit CAP spending for the 2007–2013
period. The EU is currently developing a constitution, and
it is possible that a constitution could result in significant
changes in decision-making procedures concerning EU agriculture
and related trade policy.
EU Policy-Making and the CAP
EU policy-making is conducted at three levels:
- EU member state-level politics are especially important
because the member state agriculture ministers who collectively
make the decisions about agricultural policy at the EU level
(the CAP) are primarily accountable to their own member
state, and to their own constituencies within their country.
- EU-level institutions and inter-state bargaining are central
to the EU policy-making process. The European Commission
plays a key role in setting the agenda for EU agricultural
policy, as shown by its recent efforts to promote CAP reform.
The Commission’s own objectives include promoting
European integration and efficient allocation of scarce
budgetary resources. The member states are sharply divided
on the issue of CAP reform, and inter-state bargaining in
the Council of Agriculture Ministers has been very important
in decisions regarding the CAP.
- The International level of analysis and trade issues is
important as well. The making of EU trade policy is similar
to that of the CAP, with the member states and the Commission
playing parallel roles. During the Doha Round of multilateral
trade negotiations there has been significant pressure on
the EU to reform the CAP.
A variety of interest groups operate across all three levels.
Those attempting to influence EU agricultural policy generally
find it necessary to lobby at both the member state and EU
levels. Farmers groups and other agricultural interests have
historically had the strongest influence on EU agricultural
policy-making. Environmental concerns, health and food safety
issues, and animal welfare have been taken up by consumer
and other advocacy groups. Many of these groups have tried,
with varying degrees of success, to achieve wider reform of
Forces for and against CAP Reform
The most important force driving reform of the CAP has been
multilateral trade negotiations. The Doha Round of agricultural
trade talks is currently playing this role. Ranking second
as a driving force for CAP reform are budgetary pressures
created by the (a) need to integrate the much less efficient
agriculture sectors of the ten accession countries that will
join the EU in 2004 and (b) the difficulty of sustaining the
CAP in general. Environmental concerns have produced changes
in EU agricultural policy, as have the concerns and efforts
of groups supporting animal welfare. The activities of consumers
and pro-developing country advocates has not had much influence
in changing agricultural policy except in the area of food
safety. However, pressure from various groups to reform EU
agricultural policy has been mounting.
Although the number of European farmers has been steadily
declining, the continued strength of farmers’ organizations
and other agricultural interests has so far served as a bulwark
against reform of the CAP. These interests have dominated
EU agricultural policy-making for decades, and they are particularly
important in the internal politics of France. For many years
France, and EU member states sharing similar goals, have used
EU-level institutions and inter-state bargaining to successfully
defend the CAP.
There are a number of strategic entry points for making EU
policy more responsive to the problem of poverty reduction
in developing countries in general and for livestock-dependent
poor in particular.
At the level of the international trading system. The Doha
Round of multilateral trade negotiations is the most important
force driving CAP reform and provides the best opportunity
to achieve a global trading system that has fairer rules for
developing countries. Multilateral trade negotiations are
also the most effective way for developing countries to have
influence on EU policy-making.
- If progress is to be made in the ongoing multilateral
trade negotiations involving developing countries, better
targeted and more effective technical assistance is required.
- Poor countries should be assisted to develop fora to enable
them to build productive alliances. Relevant information
on the effects of the EU’s subsidized exports of milk
powder in selected developing countries needs to be collected
and analysed, focusing on whether and how such exports undermine
livelihoods and hinder efforts to reduce poverty.
- Studies need to be conducted that focus on whether and
how SPS standards prevent poor producers from accessing
markets. Additional attention needs to be focused on developing
and implementing appropriate forms of: representation by
developing countries and poor livestock producers in those
bodies that determine and supervise SPS standards and policy.
At the levels of the EU and EU member state. As both farmers’
organizations and food and beverage industry interests have
demonstrated, it can pay off to develop long-term relationships
with Commission officials and key member-state politicians.
Through public pressure, advocacy groups have been successful
at raising awareness of their concerns and at exerting influence
on key decision-makers. For those involved in advocacy efforts,
long-term strategies focused on raising public awareness may
have the best pay-off. It would also be useful for international
organizations to more widely publicize the findings of key
research on relevant policy issues as opinion pieces in leading
newspapers. They should also send policy briefs to the staffs
of senior politicians and to officials of EU member states,
the Commission, members of the European Parliament and others.