In the Pursuit of a more Coherent CAP for Development? Mind your step!

Glopolis issued a briefing paper on Common Agriculture Policy coherence for development.

Although the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is defined by Europeans for Europeans , it is a policy that concern millions of farmers and consumers outside the European Union (EU). Every day, tons of agricultural commodities come in and out European ports, travelling to all corners of the EU and the world. Annually, the EU imports in average for €83 billion and exports for € 82 billion , which makes it the biggest importer and also exporter on a par with the USA. Its exports alone represent around 18 % of world exports. With such outreach, what decided in Europe can have far-reaching impacts outside of Europe. In fact, the CAP has often been criticized for the dumping of agricultural commodities (dairy powder, poultry, onions,…) on developing countries´ markets, causing the despair of small-scale farmers unable to compete. 

Yet, small-scale farmers are also strongly supported by the EU through its development policy, especially since the global food crisis occured in 2008 The EU supports the efforts of many countries (especially those most off track with achievement of the MDGs) to alleviate poverty and ensure food security in particular. Taking account of development concerns in non-development policies is at the core of the concept of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD).

The current review of the CAP presents a chance to address the harmful effects of CAP on the poor. But the road towards increased CAP coherence for development remains long and bumpy. The legislative proposals presented by the European Commission (EC) to reform the CAP proposed little advancements in this direction. The responsibility to ensure a fair policy lies now with the European Parliament and the Council (that is to say with all 27 EU member states) who share co-decision power over the CAP. But PCD is constantly at risk of being sidelined by the prevalence of domestic interests over fairness and due to the fact that Southern farmers cannot themselves directly hold European policymakers accountable. Hence the need for European NGOs to raise awareness on CAP coherence for development and call European and national policymakers to work at a more responsible CAP. 

This paper discussing CAP coherence for development is structured into two parts. In the first part, we will describe the approach of the European Commission on CAP coherence for development. In the second part, we will identify and discuss five shortcomings of the official discourse on CAP. They reflect the complexity of the debate on CAP’s international dimension and can be considered as stumbling stones on the road to increased PCD of the CAP. The first obstacle refers to the concept of PCD; the second concerns European exports; the third cover European imports; the fourth deals with issues going beyond exports and imports; and the fifth addresses the question of responsibilities. This paper is primarily aimed at members of civil society organizations who wish to engage in an informed debate with officials on CAP reform and its impacts on the poor.

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