Saturday, January 29, 2011

The CAP towards 2020 - Video interview

The EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is currently under revision. The Hungarian Presidency is devoting much energy into the reform of the CAP. The Commission has released a communication, the Parliament and the Council are debating it now, lobbyists and academics are giving their input.

Last week, an expert of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) in Brussels, Valentin Zahrnt, proposed to cut agricultural subsidies. In his eyes, the prime argument in favor of the CAP, namely to provide food security, is not valid. He holds that food security can be maintained without the EU subsidies.

I questioned Mr Zahrnt on his ideas. In following, his answers.


  1. it's not too well thought-out by Mr Zahrnt. Not every piece of meat in European supermarkets is imported from South America and even though this graphic ( doesn't give a quantitative relation between Europe's imports and consumption of meat the EU doesn't appear to import too much of it's consumed meat.
    thus removing the tariffs on Argentinean meat would not directly lower meat prices in Europe.
    this would be caused by the subsequent competition between European and South American meat producers. Given that Zahrnt wants to cut subsidies there would be a demise of European meat producers, decreasing Europes capability to stay completely independent in case of war after all.
    a little bit contraticting

  2. Hello Yannick, that's an interesting point. The graph shows that the EU exports 7,4% of all meat available in the world, while it imports 8,6% of global meat in return. Of course, this may stem from different kinds of meat that are imported and exported, but the figures are startling nonetheless.
    What I am wondering is whether we should put so much public money into our current levels of meat consumption. With a kilogramm of beef, we are also paying around 6 kg worth of crops and 100,000 liters of water. In a world where food prices rise, it would be sensible to decrease pressure on crop prices by feeding less crops to livestock (and producing less meat).

    Have we "earned" a level of development that allows us to constantly choose from a wide range of available meat at low prices? Is this freedom of choice something that we should defend with public money? Or should we be ready to decrease the availability of meat and eat more vegetables instead?

    On a different note, a few weeks back Jonathan Safran Foer discussed his book "Eating Animals" at the LSE. Haven't listened to it yet, but it might be interesting.