Matthews KB, Blackstock KL, Waylen KA, Juarez-Bourke A, Miller DG, Wardell-Johnson DH and Rivington M. Report on the Quality Check of the Robustness of the Narrative behind the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). MAGIC (H2020–GA 689669) Project Deliverable 5.5, 29 November 2018.
This is an output of an EU Horizon 2020 project (MAGIC) being conducted to better understand how EU water, food, energy, waste and biodiversity policies are linked together and to EU climate and sustainability goals. It is one of five deliverables looking at narratives underpinning key EU water, energy and food (WEF) nexus policies.
The narrative chosen with policy stakeholders was “CAP aims to ensure European agricultural competitiveness in the world market and aims to deliver public goods such as biodiversity conservation, water quality and climate change mitigation. These aims are in opposition”.
Analysis of international trade in agricultural products highlighted the dependence of EU agriculture on external resources, e.g. feedstocks. These increase the competitiveness of EU agriculture, but their production can undermine public good provision beyond the borders of the EU. The analyses of productivity across agricultural sectors, illustrated the role of subsidies in keeping farming viable, but noted significant windfalls for sectors, viable without subsidy. Despite some opportunities for increases in efficiency of resource use, the magnitude of outputs from farming systems are still largely driven by the level of inputs. Any significant overall reduction in the intensity of input use improve the provision of public goods would seem to require an acceptance of less output. This suggests that if CAP is intended to achieve a more sustainable balance of competitiveness and provision of public goods, then it may need to support measures to reduce the demands being placed on the farmed areas of the EU.