This Study analyses the French position on the agricultural elements included in the MFF to understand the conditions under which this position could change. Through a thorough examination of the internal political dynamics that influence decision-making on this issue, this study examines the obstacles and opportunities for an ambitious reform of the next MFF to make it a key lever for food system transformation.

Key Messages

  • In MFF negotiations, France defends the maintenance of a high CAP budget, particularly for the first pillar, which provides direct funds to farmers. This position has been stable for the last 20 years (2003 being the date when the current CAP structure entered into force) due to a convergence of interests between three key actors in the development of the French position on the MFF:
    - the French Presidency and the Ministry of Agriculture, who see it as a way of maintaining good relations with the main trade unions and the farming community in general;
    - and the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Bercy), which is in favour of the budget for the CAP’s first pillar because of its favorable return rate.
  • Unless there is a major shock, France is likely to continue to support the CAP’s first pillar which, as it stands, does not encourage the adoption of virtuous agricultural practices. This Study therefore analyses two shocks (EU enlargement and the increasing number of environmental and animal health crises affecting the farming world and the food system in general) which could have a structural effect on future budget negotiations and could alter the French position in the MFF, and therefore its position during the negotiations.
  • These events could open a window of opportunity to reform the CAP, via the MFF. This could involve new allocation criteria for the first pillar budget, as well as greater pooling of the funding allocated to risk management. These two options are discussed in this Study for illustrative purposes; there is no guarantee, however, that if they were to lead to major changes, that this change would create positive environmental outcomes. Further work is required in this area.
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