France and Germany have apparently set up a 'working group' charged with
And there's little doubt over what the objective is. Following a meeting with President José Manuel Barroso last week, French Farm Minister Bruno Le Maire, bluntly said that "more regulation" will be France's guiding line in negotiations on the CAP.
The negotiations on the EU budget will kick off in November and, according to Euractiv, the Commission is due to table its first ideas on 'CAP reform' in September 2010. The franco-german 'working group' will now tour EU capitals, starting in London before going to Madrid, Rome, Bucharest and Warsaw, in a bid to convince EU partners of the undisputed advantages of the CAP (which, for example, include artificially high food prices, more global poverty, and allowing for non-farmers to be paid not to farm).
But quite apart from the issue itself, note the contrast between the franco-german approach to CAP negotiations and the UK Government's approach to the ongoing talks on more EU supervision and regulation of the financial markets - proposals with huge implications for the UK economy. We doubt that there were 'working groups' from the Treasury touring Europe to win support for the UK's position as these proposals were concieved (indeed many of them are still in the process of being worked out). It's widely acknowledged that Whitehall has struggled in putting its mark on the negotiations - despite the UK being home to by far the most important financial centre in Europe.
In fact, even the House of Lords EU select committee criticised the UK Government for being "behind the ball game" in the negotiations.
Perhaps the UK could learn a thing or two from the French here - at least when it comes to influencing the EU agenda at a much earlier stage, particularly in policy areas that are so significant for the UK economy.