Europe Takes CAP Reform Debate to Next Level

Scotland must build on forward thinking to secure best deal

The publication today (Thursday, 18 November) of the European Commission’s Communication on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) sees the debate move to a higher level.  With momentum growing in Europe, NFU Scotland is keen that Scotland builds on the fact that discussions here on CAP Reform and delivery of support from 2013 onwards are at an advanced stage.

The Scottish Government is already in the position of being able to consider the recommendations of the Pack Inquiry into future support arrangements for Scotland, with the Inquiry’s final report published earlier this month.   The Scottish Government has since announced the establishment of an expert group to develop some of the report’s key proposals.  

Today’s European Commission Communication, entitled "The CAP towards 2020 – Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future" loosely outlines options for further reform. Following discussion of these ideas, the Commission plans to present formal legislative proposals in mid-2011.

NFU Scotland believes Scottish thinking on the principles of CAP do fit with much of what is included in the Commission document but a considerable amount of work on the detail is now required.   The big debate is starting but the big decisions are some way off.

Speaking in Brussels ahead of a planned meeting involving the Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Ciolos and Europe’s farming leaders, NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“I look forward to speaking with the Commissioner later today on the publication of this communication, but my initial reaction is that we still need to keep things in perspective.   

“We are at the starting point in a very important and probably lengthy debate on the future shape of CAP – a debate that will engage with 27 individual member states and more than 700 MEPs.  Importantly, it is a debate that has commenced without truly knowing the size or distribution of the budget that will ultimately be available to the European Commission to deliver the many benefits likely to be demanded of CAP in the future.

“At first glance, the communication has significant merit in setting the scene around which CAP reform will take place and what support payments are expected to deliver.  Food production and security, economic activity, sustainable farming systems and, crucially, recognition that support should be targeted at active farmers to better recognise the collective benefits they provide.

“Much of that chimes with our current thoughts.  Where the document falls down is in its potential options for delivery of those payments, which are both confused and muddled.   That is due in large part to the open-ended nature of the document.  It hints lightly at outcomes but leaves much to people's own interpretation.  As an exercise in keeping all options open and offending as few people as possible, it is a success. As an exercise in defining clear delivery options for the future it take us little further forward.

“The reason the options proposed today merit much closer scrutiny is because there are some alarming elements.   The notion of capping support to farm businesses would hugely disadvantage the farming structure in Scotland.   In addition, hints at ramping up environmental requirements by way of more stringent cross compliance rules would be highly undesirable.   Another worry is around the positioning of Less Favoured Area Support, a crucial element of funding delivered to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable farms. Its future remains confused by the Commission’s choice of words, which suggest creating an area-based direct support payment for those facing natural disadvantage as a ‘complement’ to other rural development funds. 

“While these are initial concerns – and more may emerge as we start the debate in earnest - the reality is that every CAP reform presents challenges and opportunities and we are at the very start of the current process.  This particular reform debate sees Scotland ahead of many other member states in terms of the level of discussions had in Scotland.   As the momentum behind the reform debate cranks up another notch with the publication of this communication, we need to capitalise on our forward thinking and ensure that whatever deal emerges over the coming months and years, we secure the best package for Scotland’s farmers, crofters and consumers.”

Notes to editors

  • The Pack Inquiry was established in June 2009 to provide advice to the Scottish Government on how support to agriculture and rural development could best be tailored to deliver continued agricultural support. Chaired by Brian Pack OBE, the inquiry commissioned several evidence papers, held two public consultations, held several meetings with European and Scottish Government officials and undertook a series of public meetings throughout Scotland. The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute undertook modelling work and the Scottish Government and short-term recommendations were published in June 2010.   The final report and recommendations were released on 4 November.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Date Published:

News Article No.: 163/10

< Article List


Report Abusive Comment

Comment Content:

Why it offends me (optional):

Have Your Say

No-one has commented on this article yet. Be the first to have your say...

New Comment


Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:

Quick Contact

Which Region do you live in?  
Are you a member of NFU Scotland?  

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.


NFU Scotland
Head Office
Rural Centre - West Mains
Ingliston, Midlothian
EH28 8LT

Tel: 0131 472 4000

NFU Mutual Logo

Get the App

NFUS App QR Code

©NFU Scotland • All Rights Reserved • Web design by Big Red DigitalLog in


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.