Author: Serafín Pazos-Vidal (AEIDL)
On 28 November, the European Parliament Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (AGRI) was presented with the study “Governance: the reform process of the CAP post 2020 seen from an inter-institutional angle”.
The report, produced to help MEPs learn from the long round of negotiations of the last four years, was put together by a renowned set of experts, led by Dr Haris Martinos (Metis), Professor Alan Matthews, Professor Dimitris Skouras together with Dr. Norbert Röder, Regina Grajewski, Christine Krämer from the Thünen Institute.
The study is in itself a treasure trove of evidence on how the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was negotiated, the rationale behind the initial proposal, all the way to outlining the final outcomes.
The report found that throughout the negotiations, the European Parliament adopted the role of guardian of EU principles and the CAP budget while exercising a notable degree of policy entrepreneurialism.
Predictably, the Member States at Council had a much clearer predisposition towards the status quo, when not leaning towards a degree of renationalisation of CAP on the basis of deepening subsidiarity. This was a major concern for MEPs as it would risk losing the “common” in the Common Agricultural Policy.
That said, the European Parliament had internal issues of its own. By definition the Parliament is an institution made up of a great diversity of views, so MEPs had to work hard to ensure a degree of coherence in its positions.
In order to overcome this, this study made a number of key recommendations:
- Enhancing the scrutiny mechanisms within the Parliament including being able to proactively call on the Commission and Member States to give detailed evidence so that they are held to account for the delivery of CAP. This could start with the specific commitments and evidence provided by the CAP Strategic Plans and the procedures used by the Commission to approve them.
- Exploring, in case the above is considered insufficient, the setting up of a scrutiny unit within Parliament, potentially for all EU funds, that could process and analyse the implementation evidence provided by the Commission and Member States, in view of the discussion on the CAP post 2027 starting already in 2025 with a mid-term review.
- Have more robust, real-time technical evidence that can challenge the often-contradictory views and evidence put forward by the Commission, Council and other stakeholders throughout the policy and implementation cycle, and crucially in the three way (MEPs, Member States and Commission) negotiations when time and analytical capacity are of the essence.
- Go beyond the analytical capacity that is presently provided by European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and the Policy Departments.
- Embrace an evidence to-policy approach, not just in the pre-legislative phase but crucially in the adoption of formal positions and during trilogue negotiations. The model would be Possibly on similar lines to the Congressional Audit Office in the US Congress.
To sum up, this involves developing a more strategic use of stakeholder’s evidence and input from other institutions (European Committee of the Regions, EESC, COSAC/national parliamentary representatives), and indeed the wealth of expertise, technical evidence and stakeholder imput provided by projects such as MOVING and SHERPA.