Where does the CAP money go? : Design and priorities of the draft CAP Strategic Plans 2023-2027
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023–2027 is implemented through national strategic plans. This paper examines the strategic plans submitted for approval, analysing their financial priorities to identify commonalities, differences and overarching patterns of national CAP implementation. It aims to provide general orientation on the new funding period as well as starting points for further studies.
The paper shows that the member states use the discretion granted in the Strategic Plan Regulation in various ways. Despite common goals and funding guidelines, the plans show great heterogeneity. Regarding the general design, the plans differ quite vastly mainly in the reallocation of funds between the first and the second pillar or the level of contribution rates.
In the first pillar, the plans not only vary in their shares of decoupled and coupled direct payments as well as the newly introduced eco-schemes; they also differ considerably in how these interventions are designed. Overall, the funds planned for eco-schemes are slightly above the prescribed minimum, while some member states are close to the maximum share of coupled direct payments. Interventions in specific sectors also vary. Some offerings are highly differentiated; however, most funds will flow into the fruit and vegetable and wine sectors.
The second pillar is marked by overall continuity. Despite the eco-schemes in the first pillar, agri-environment-climate measures also remain important in the second pillar. Support for organic farming and animal welfare measures even increase slightly in relative terms. The same is true for risk management, where Italy and France make substantial use of CAP funds. Support for investments remains high, but becomes less important. More significant than the changes compared to the current funding period are national differences: The strategic plans attribute quite different importance to each of these interventions.
Despite the heterogeneity, the strategic plans heavily focus on the agricultural sector; services of general interest and business development in rural areas as well as the forestry sector are only secondary. The goals primarily pertain to income, competitiveness and the environment. This pattern is also evident, albeit in a weakened form, if only the second pillar is considered. Nevertheless, the overall diversity of strategic plans is further evidence of the subsidiarity in the Common Agricultural Policy.