CAP Reform Moves Closer

26 February 2008
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture Committee, SNP MEP Mr Alyn Smith, has welcomed a vote in the Committee this morning on Commission proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.

The "Goepel Report", drafted by German Christian Democrat Lutz Goepel, was subject to a mammoth 700 amendments, but in the final vote was approved by 33 votes to 6 with 3 abstentions. The report will go on to the plenary in Strasbourg in March and then become the formal view of the Parliament on the reform proposals.

Speaking after the vote Mr Smith said:

"After three hours of voting we will take a wee while to analyse the final results, but I think we did a decent bit of work today. This report broadens out the Commission proposals and the size of the majority demonstrates that all groups in the Parliament are behind this sensible package.

"The Common Agricultural Policy is one of the most controversial parts of the EU's work, and it is right that we keep it under review, but what Scotland's farmers and growers need most is stability. The Commission proposals in the CAP Healthcheck manage that balance; they tidy up the parts which are not working as well as they should but keep the door closed against wholesale reform, which is already programmed for a few years time.

"For my part, the amendments I put down were in the main either successful or incorporated into successful compromise amendments, so I'm happy that the report both passes the Hippocratic test of doing no harm, and also has a couple of solid steps forward for Scotland's agriculture.

"Of the ideas initially and now confirmed in the report, I was particularly pleased to see:

  • a call for an EU livestock plan which will be tailored to mountainous, island and less-favoured areas;
  • confirmation that set-aside is now finished and done with, and that the spin-off environmental benefits should be promoted under other budgets; and crucially
  • proposals to simplify EU administration.

"The report has not made it out of the Parliament yet so it is possible, albeit unlikely, that it will be amended by full plenary next month, but today the Agriculture Committee has made a solid contribution to sensible incremental reform of the CAP and I'm glad to see it move forward."