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On 17 July, a working paper was launched, on which a new nine-month research project into reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will be based.
Lord Haskins, Chairman of Northern Foods and Head of the Better Regulation Taskforce in the Cabinet Office, will lead the project. It will take evidence from European experts across the political spectrum including former Irish Taioseach John Bruton and former British Environment Secretary John Gummer.
Haskins argues that there is a unique opportunity for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy with the Post-Nice agenda and the mid-term evaluation of the Agenda 2000 proposals that will take place next year. He claims that a series of crises in European farming has convinced policy-makers, farmers and the general public that reform is a priority. At the same time the cost of defending the status quo is also becoming increasingly clear - the CAP is blocking a further round of World Trade Liberalisation that would benefit other sectors of European Business. The project will outline how to move from a system of automatic production subsidies to one in which farmers earn payments depending on the impact of their activities on the environment.