New Rural Support Scheme development - evidence: outputs summary

This synthesis report covers twelve written reports providing evidence reviews, analysis, summaries and expert briefings on agriculture in Scotland to shape future policy to help deliver sustainable food production that tackles climate change and nature restoration.

W8 EU Member States' CAP Strategic Plans

Authors: Andrew Moxey, Steven Thomson and John Elliot

Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W8

The Report is available in the supporting documents of this publication.

Key Points

To better reflect variation in local conditions and the principle of subsidiarity, the CAP now allows for greater flexibility in how support is designed and implemented. The rationale for support and how it aligns with EU-wide objectives must be explained by Member States in their Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plans, which now cover Pillar I as well as Pillar II expenditure.

Individual Strategic Plans vary considerably in their choice of budget allocations within and between Pillars and the design of specific interventions, showing MS are using their greater freedom.

CAP Strategic Plans are designed to be outcome focused, delivering against national and EU targets. Current Scottish agricultural policy proposals are somewhat in line with EU CAP principles and objectives, although some mandatory CAP elements are currently not included in Scottish Government proposals (e.g. internal convergence and redistributive payments).

Income support for active farmers dominates, both via coupled and decoupled payments (the latter including explicit redistribution to smaller farms).

Based on a SWOT analysis and needs assessment MSs must set targets for relevant common result indicators and related milestones, providing sound intervention logic (with a WTO assessment). However, the EC regards many Plans as lacking in environmental ambition and results-based focus.

For example, Good Environmental and Agricultural Condition (GAEC) could be tightened further and the design of eco-schemes (which replace Pillar I Greening) could be bolder in terms of prescriptions and interactions with Pillar II agri-environmental schemes.

Similarly, linkages to wider rural development and support for competitiveness and innovation remain relatively under-developed, and advisory support needs to better address all aspects of sustainability.

Recent leaked letters from DG ENV and DG CLIMA point to "an almost complete lack of effort" by MS "to integrate major recommendations" made by the Commission thus leaving a gap between stated national ambitions and route maps to achieving outcomes. In November 2021 environmental NGOs assessed 32% of eco-scheme measures and as 'Bad – concerning' with a further 9% as 'Awful – Greenwashing'

Significant variation across MS means that examples of policy ideas being considered in Scotland already being implemented somewhere in the EU can be found relatively easily. For example, basic income support, coupled payments, conditionality, active farming and supplementary agri-environment schemes. This offers some reassurance that Scottish policy can remain aligned with the CAP.

Moreover, it is also apparent that policy challenges encountered in Scotland apply across the EU too. For example, the specifics of policy prescriptions, the share of budget allocations and the choice of indictors for monitoring. Again, this offers some reassurance that Scotland is not alone in facing challenges and suggests that there is scope to learn from others' experiences.



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