There will be more than one crunch week for the CAP between now and the summer, and this week could be one of them.
On Thursday and Friday the leaders of the Member State governments will assemble as the European Council, under the chairmanship of Herman Van Rompuy, for the summit meeting at which the EU budget for 2014-2020 could be decided.
At this stage we can’t, of course, know what will be decided. But I thought I’d look back at the numbers from the previous attempt, last November, to see if we can glean any clues.
The initial Commission proposal, dating back to 2011, was essentially to hold the CAP budget in cash terms, meaning that in real terms its value would decline over the seven-year period by about 10%. Before last November’s summit meeting the then EU Presidency, Cyprus, tabled a text which reduced the EU budget a bit, because of pressure from (some) member states; on the CAP, it held the Pillar 2 total but shaved about €4bn off the 7-year total for Pillar 1.
Then during the November summit Van Rompuy tabled two texts. The first version reduced Pillar 1 by a further €7bn or so, and Pillar 2 by about the same. But the response from member states must have been that this was a step too far for Pillar 1, because his second version essentially reinstated Pillar 1 back at about the Cyprus Presidency’s level.
Confused? Me too. In any case, what does this tell us about the prospects for this week? The word in the corridors is that Mr Van R is now close to having a proposal that stands a chance of being agreed; and that, whilst the CAP could be subject to some further changes, it isn’t being specifically targeted. We can also probably say with a degree of certainty that, given the difference between his first and second texts from November, member states would be unlikely now to agree a final deal with a big further cut in Pillar 1.
Anyway, by Friday night we may know for certain. I certainly hope so, because the rest of the CAP reform timetable is depending on it.