For the first time in its history, the Common Agricultural Policy (or ‘CAP’) will lose its top position in the European Union’s spending stakes, from next year. In 2008, the annual budget for the modern European Union will concentrate more on developing research, transport networks, training and regional aid.
The community treasury represents just a shaving over one percent of the member states’ combined income.
Agriculture will get just under 44% of the total budget of 129.2 billion euros; Lisbon policy economic development goals are to be attributed a bit more than 44%; Other policies will share the roughly 12% remaining.
Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaité in Brussels said more credit was available for politicies focused on economic progress, without the others suffering:
“First time, for this Commission, Commission can confirm that it is fullfilling its agenda for growth and jobs and Lisbon oriented policies. Second good news: agriculture is stable and supported and remains guaranteed for the member states, we are not jeopardizing any policy, especially common policies which are common policies in the treaties.”
French President Jacques Chirac, long a champion of the farmers, is on the way out, and Tony Blair’s days as prime minister of Britain are drawing to a close — the end of an era, EU-watchers say.
In 2005, Chirac battled to keep the CAP in its present form until 2013 but it was agreed to hold talks on reform of the whole budget in 2008-09, including a farewell to the British rebate.