A feather in the EU’s CAP

Whilst giving the front room its six-monthly mop, the BBC’s World Service has kindly informed me that the EU will be ploughing surplus money from the frankly wasteful Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) into its Galileo satellite navigation system.

In simple terms the CAP doles out money to European farmers and agrobusiness because, erm, the French managed to wangle it into EU policy years ago to protect a powerful interest group and to keep the French’s rather soppy relationship with the countryside alive. Yes, Pierre, driving through the compiegne and romping round well-kept meadows is pleasant, but hardly what you’d call a priority as far as EU funding goes, wouldn’t you say?

The CAP ensures that every European cow recieves subsidies to the tune of 700€ a year and takes up 40% of the EU budget. On top of this, artificially lowering production costs for hairy-arsed cousin-chasers has meant that third-world farmers have not been able to compete with EU products either at home or on the EU market, thereby holding back development and keeping a dependency culture going. Yes, égalité, only not for the darkies, if you don’t mind. What’s more, the beneficiaries of this bizarre policy are often large landowners – one of the largest recipients in Spain, for example, is the publicity-courting Duquesa de Alba, one of the richest people in the country.  

The move has been possible due to rising market prices for agricultural products, so EU taxpayers’ money isn’t quite as necessary to ensure that farm-dwellers can shell out on fleece-lined lumberjack shirts and 4x4s, leaving a surplus to be invested elsewhere. So farmers won’t actually be any worse off, but will doubtlessly complain anyway. The EU is possibly getting an early dig in to take advantage of new French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s modernising streak. 

There are plenty of critics of the Galileo project, which is due to be operational by 2012. Many claim that simply copying something that already exists (the US NAVSTAR GPS system) is hardly where EU high-tech investments should be directed. But it’s predicted that satellite navigation will be a money-spinner in the future and that earnings will go straight back into EU coffers. Efforts to get private capital on board have failed dismally.

Whichever way you look at it, a shift in focus from agriculture, which can be carried out in developing countries, to technology has to be viewed as positive, and this move fits in well with the philosophy of an institution which is trying to get away from the past rather than cling on to it.

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~ by Daniel on September 19, 2007.

One Response to “A feather in the EU’s CAP”

  1. Well at least shifting some of the money to Galileo will mean they can then tag the remaining hefty agriculture subsidies with GPS receivers and then produce a neat little map of where the money is going. As well as the Duquesa de Alba receiving money I think there should also be an honourable mention for another recipient, Prince Charles. The really bad cases though are the food processing companies that receive money – companies like Tate and Lyle apparently receive large sums of money for doing…what they were going to do anyway.

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