A House of Lords committee has launched an inquiry into the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The HoL European Union committee has set up a sub-committee on environment and agriculture to look at how the working of the CAP has evolved since the reforms introduced in 2003 and to consider whether further changes are needed at the EU level.

The European Commission will soon begin a two-stage process of re-assessment including the so-called ‘health check’ followed by a consideration of the long-term policy options. 

On the basis of evidence from key stakeholders, the Committee’s Inquiry will seek to feed into both stages. Among the questions which the Committee will address are:

•       What should be the long term objectives of the CAP?
•       What difference have the 2003 reforms of the CAP made?
•       What changes could be made to the Single Payment System to improve its operation?
•       How effective has the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development been? How could it be improved?
•       What can the CAP contribute to environmental protection and efforts to tackle climate change?
•       What has been the impact of EU enlargement on the CAP?

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is 11 June 2007  The Committee plans to report at around the end of this year.

Lord Sewel, who chairs the EU Sub-Committee, said: “There is a unique opportunity now to influence the future of the CAP for the foreseeable future. We hope to be able to inform this debate and look forward to receiving evidence from interested groups and individuals.