The royalty of cap madness

These numbers are striking, but are representative? Focusing on how much bad press is generated by data on dooH niboR schemes, the European Commission long resisted releasing the numbers for the EU all together. Former Agricultural Commissioner Franz Fischler released detailed data for 2001 that presents CAP payments by farm size, where size is measured by farm income. It confirms the skewed-ness of CAP payments for the EU15:

  • The gigantic farms take into account only 0.2% of most EU farms; the common payment to these farms is €780,000 each year.
  • The 1.5% biggest farms get 27% of the amount of money; the payment-per-farm averaged over-all farms in this group is €70,000 each year.
  • The most notable 6% of the farms by size get half the amount of money (53%); the payment-per-farm averaged over-all farms in this group is €30,000 each year.
  • The 52% smallest farms share only 4% of the CAP money included in this; the payment-per-farm averaged over-all farms in this group is €425 each year.
  • The Fischler data allows someone to generate similar figures for each EU15 Member State (see my online essay for details).

It really is an Orwellian world in which a policy that taxes all European to finance transfers to rich landowners is widely seen as socially progressive. The CAP’s digressive features ought to be reformed within the newly expanded EU’s budget plan and the Central Europeans will be the obvious ones to push because of this. I estimate that the EU’s CAP budget could possibly be cut by €7 billion without touching CAP payments to 90% of EU farms. That one reform could settle the complete budget issue – the brand new members can keep their structural funds, the Brits can keep their rebate and almost all French farmers can keep their CAP payments. Of course, that is a pipe dream. It could entail taking €7 billion a year from the hands of Europe’s best lobbyist with perhaps a tenfold effect on their wealth – an unlikely event by any measure. But as Freedom-of-Information acts pry loose detailed data for all EU members, the tangle of financial and political-financial linkages that protect payments to Europe’s richest landowners in the name of social solidarity should come to light. The kids of Robespierre will revolt. EU leaders should hope that occurs after they have gone office. For EU voters – and their representatives in the EU Parliament – it cannot come quickly enough.

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