EU Agriculture and Common Agricultural Policy: Prospects for the 21st Century and Implications for Mediterranean Countries
There are overwhelming reasons for Mediterranean countries to strengthen their links. Centuries of common history, cultural roots and human exchange should provide a base for avoiding any sort of apartheid between the different shores of the Mediterranean. This is, indeed, the official goal of the Barcelona Process, launched in 19952 with the aim of creating a Euro-Mediterranean partnership, including a Free Trade Area between the EU and 12 Mediterranean partners by 2010. Dissatisfaction about how agricultural trade has been managed in the Barcelona process has become a constant during the negotiations and the reviews of the trade arrangements between the EU and the Southern Mediterranean Countries (SMCs). Such dissatisfaction has appeared on both sides of the Mediterranean basin as reflected by: (i) the claim for a larger EU market access by Southern Mediterranean exporters and (ii) EU producers fears of increased competition from a loss of community preference. The Barcelona process has called for a progressive liberalisation of agricultural trade based on traditional flows. However, the Euro-Mediterranean Agreements (EMA) do not consider full liberalisation of agricultural trade. As a result of this 'controlled' approach, agriculture has been given a low profile during the definition and putting into practice of the EMAs. It has been usual for agricultural negotiations to be left as the final step of the bilateral trade talks between the EU and the Mediterranean partners. The treatment of agriculture under the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EMFTA) has been largely ad hoc and commercial concessions have varied according to the sensitiveness of the product on EU markets and to the export competitiveness of each particular partner. Top-level meetings, e.g. Ministerial Conferences, have not undertaken discussions in depth about the pros and cons of a common approach for agricultural trade and rural development in the Mediterranean basin. In the following pages we will consider the future prospects for EuroMediterranean agricultural trade relations, by assessing how a reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) might contribute to overcome the existing political constraints on the full inclusion of agricultural trade in the Barcelona process. Next, we shall proceed to review the current status of agricultural trade between the EU and the SMCs. Then, we will refer to the current treatment of agriculture in the EMAs. We will later study the policy options for the CAP in the coming years to finally assess how CAP reform could affect the future of Euro-Mediterranean integration. We will use the term “South” in a political way rather than in a geographical way. Indeed, the North-South asymmetries in the Mediterranean region are outstanding: According to the World Bank (World Development Indicators), the gross national income per capita ratios, measured at PPP3 rates, is 7 between France and Morocco, 6 between Italy and Egypt and 4 between Spain and Algeria. On average, the per capita income in the EU is about ten times that of the SMCs.
KeywordsTrade Intensity Trade Liberalisation Trade Balance Common Agricultural Policy Global Public Good
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