Dacian Cioloş meets former EU Agriculture Commissioners
EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș took a journey back into the history and traditions of the EU's Common Agriculture Policy today in a meeting with three of his predecessors in the job.
While he enjoyed a close working relationship with his immediate predecessor Mariann Fischer Boel and witnessed her at work, the Commissioner had an equally interesting talk with Frans Andriessen (Commissioner from 1985-1989) and Ray Mac Sharry (1989-1993) whose 1992 reform is seen as one of the key turning points in modernising the Common Agriculture Policy.
The exchanges reminisced about the 1980s and 1990s when the CAP was dominated by overproduction with Mr Andriessen recalling the battles he had to introduce production control mechanisms such as dairy quotas, and budget stabilisers to provide some form of budget stability given that the vast majority of CAP spending went on public intervention and export refunds, the cost of which depended on the level of production. The former Commissioner recalled the "butter mountains and wine lakes" and showed satisfaction that these things are now over.
Mr Mac Sharry explained the history of his reform, where the agreement centred around lowering the support price for the key products and introducing direct aid as a "compensatory payment" for the potential loss in farmers' income. This put an end to the annual price package negotiations - an annual marathon of several days and nights during which Farm Ministers battled with the Commission over the level of intervention prices for the following year.
For her part Mariann Fischer Boel confirmed that the CAP has moved away from the overproduction problems of the past, but noted the significant change in working procedures as a result of EU Enlargement, as the Council rose from 15 member states to 25 and then 27 - to the extent that Ministers can hardly see each other around the Council table anymore!