Rural development key to future of EU agricultural policy

The Spanish Presidency of the EU, the
Commission, Denmark and some other Member States agreed at an
informal Agriculture Council in Murcia that rural development
will be fundamental to the future of the Common Agricultural
Policy (CAP).

The Spanish Agriculture Minister, Miguel Arias Cañete,
stated at the meeting on 30 April that rural development
“should be a complementary element of the classic CAP” and
it should be strengthened to maintain a rural environment
in Europe, that represents 80 percent of all land in the

The Presidency stated that the EU should
analyse the structuring of the specific lines of rural
development to improve productivity, overcome structural
problems and compensate for the natural handicaps and
multifunctionalities not directly rewarded by the

The Presidency document on the future of
rural development, presented at the informal meeting of EU
Agriculture Ministers, suggests reflection on the
adjustments that may arise from the reform of the CAP.

The document suggests a wide range of
issues for analysis, such as the central points of the
rural development policy, the application of subsidiarity
criteria to the CAP or the possible difficulties that
national co-financing may cause for countries with
budgetary problems, especially for the future Member


A mid-term review of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy
(CAP) is planned for 2002, but a more radical reform is
necessitated by the EU's planned eastward expansion. There
has been a consensus up to now between the 15 Member States
that the CAP reform should be negotiated after enlargement,
which is expected to take place in 2004. However, the EU's
net payers fear that a radical reform of the CAP will be
impossible after this date, with big beneficiaries, such as
France and Poland, expected to block it.


A mid-term review of the CAP is foreseen for mid-2002. The
Presidency proposes that a major CAP reform dealing with
these challenges, might better be carried out in the run-up
to the financial framework starting in 2007.


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