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24.03.2015

10 Years Common Agricultural Policy in Eastern Europe: Lessons Learned and the Path Ahead


The second panel discussion of this year’s ETIAtalks series took place on March 3, 2015 in the Festsaal of the Diplomatic Academy. The speakers for this event were Thomas Resl (Head of the Austrian National Institute of Agricultural Economics), Ursula Bittner (Manager of the Danube Soy Association and the Austrian Soy Association), Klaus Salhofer (Professor at the Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, BOKU Vienna) and Robert Lukesch (ÖAR Regional Development Consultants) as moderator.

The lively talk of our expert panel was once more focused on a key issue of today’s sustainable development in the EU: the Common Agricultural Policy. This central pillar of the Union has a strong impact on rural development, which leads to controversy. Ten eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004 and, besides a wide range of opportunities that came with this, the eastern expansion posed a great challenge to the structure of the CAP.  Since the direct payments of the CAP apply to these countries, there has been a remarkable trend of positive income growth compared to 2004. However, the CAP subsidies were mainly invested in machinery, but not in the broader rural development. As a result, productivity in Eastern Europe is still relatively low. One example is that Slovenia’s corn productivity is 30% less than in the neighboring country Austria.

A shortcoming of the CAP is that it has no protein strategy. The overwhelming majority of livestock in the EU is fed with GM soy or maize from overseas, which requires no label and causes immense CO2 emissions. Furthermore, CAP has not one or two, but a series of goals, such as to increase productivity, self-sufficiency, sustainable resource management, and rural development. The panel unitedly insisted on the fact that if there are two objectives, we need two tools to tackle these efficiently. This applies for example to social problems, such as land grabbing, or social inequality between rural and urban areas which cannot be mitigated by the CAP. A big shortcoming is also that as land itself is subsidized the earnings are not always directed the right way and those who rent out their land earn both the rent and the subsidies. This is significant, because for example in Germany 60% of farmland is rented. In the course of the talk the panelists also discussed various possibilities for an improved policy, such as a support per employee instead of hectare.

ETIA Talks is an annual series of panel discussions organized by MSc students of Environmental Technology and International Affairs (ETIA) with support of DA students.
The panel topics explore energy and environmental technologies, and how these interconnect with society, politics, international relations, and development economics. The event aims to raise awareness for these issues by bringing together experts, politicians, and professionals to create a wide range of perspectives in an open atmosphere between the various disciplines.

Join our next panel on “TTIP and GMOs - new resource or unnecessary evil?” on April 30, 2015 and keep up-to-date with upcoming events via www.etiatalks.com.



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