What did the CAP do for agriculture in Eastern Europe? The answer: It did less than it could have done. While the CAP puts competitiveness as a key issue of agricultural policy, Emil Erjavec states that in many eastern member states foodsecurity is perceived more important, resulting in a “protectionist vs. a liberalist” approach.
This is a summary of a blogpost titled ‘Why no ‘Green Revolution’ in new member states?’ on CAPreform.eu by Emil Erjavec. Erjavec is a slovenian expert on agricultural and rural development policy, especially CAP and EU integration. The full post is here on CAPreform.eu.
summarized from a post by: Emil Erjavec
In the period from 2000 to 2012, the eastern region received (according to estimates) more than EUR 20 billion of EU and national funds for agriculture. Most of it went to large projects, often to construction or machines. Generally spoken; technology copied from west Europe for ‘run-of-the-mill’-type projects. Such an approach and extraordinary inflow of funds importantly contributed to raising the competitiveness of a few individual holdings, but not of agriculture at the aggregate level, neither does it significantly contribute to improving the welfare of the rural population.
On the contrary, it widens the differences among the rural population: the EU funds creating a type of ‘new landlords’ who then tend to take ownership as well as the political initiative. Other adverse effects of the funds are: a focus (on all levels: from national to organizations to individuals) on how to get the funds instead of on how to improve agriculture.
Not many analyses of macroeconomic effects are available at the level of the entire region, only some partial analyses, which, however, expose problems in programming and implementing this policy.
To exaggerate a bit, these countries transposed from the Western Europe the democratic interest-lobbyist manner of organising agricultural interests, but almost completely failed to transpose a comparable European public system of knowledge transfer. There was also no systematic support from the European government or non-governmental organisations for these functions.
Rural development policy is seen as a tool for the redistribution of funds in agriculture: only important in order to achieve the greatest possible absorption of the EU funds and satisfy well-organised interest groups. The quality aspect and the actual meeting of the strategic goals of rural development policy only come second. There is a critical lack of vision for a sustainable development of agriculture which would be based on an integrated view of the situation and its development opportunities.
The deficiencies in programming thus further lead to inefficient implementation of measures. Overcome by fear of failure to meet the EU criteria and of fraud; administrators design extremely complicated implementation systems which are not friendly to beneficiaries, but on the contrary, narrow the circle of applicants.
The European Commission is not of great help here. It is sceptical about investment in both small and very large farms. It always targets the centre of the structure, the medium family farms which are, however, very rare in Central and Eastern Europe. By its approach, the European Commission no doubt contributes to the inefficiency of rural development policy in the new Member States, in terms of competitiveness. Its main goal is that the programmes are implemented and that the funds are used, in line with the legislation.
Under-development of a public research and extension network significantly affects the efficiency of support aimed at raising competitiveness. Rather than engage in technological development, the developing agricultural science largely prefers to engage in basic research in applied biology and biotechnology, the sciences where national and international projects can be won but which are not directly useable in knowledge formation and transfer for agriculture.
Finally, the perception and the concept of agricultural policy in these countries are, in many ways, quite specific. Neither competitiveness, nor environment are deemed key issues. Apart from the countries with a relatively liberalist attitude to agriculture, such as the Czech Republic and Latvia, the protectionist attitude prevails in most other countries, placing an emphasis on production and national food security.
The result of applying CAP in Eastern member states: Although structural indicators of agriculture have been mostly trending upward since accession, they still reveal the low value-added of agriculture, a lag behind in productivity, unused production potential, and growing negative social trends.
The author also proposes solutions, mainly support for better policy at EU and national levels. (read the solutions in the full post)
“East – West” is a recurrent theme in FoodPolitisc.eu. It is about diverse regions in Europa and one common policy for agriculture.