While not the major preoccupation of European Union lawmakers in the coming years of CAP development, there is little doubt that the UK’s departure from the EU in or soon after 2019 (Brexit) will have a profound effect on the direction and nature of future changes. This is for two reasons: the resulting budget constraints and the removal of a major reforming influence on the debate on future line of development.
Withdrawal of the UK from financing of the Brussels budget will leave a hole in funding amounting to more than 10% of the current budget. In the event of the UK having a partnership with the EU similar to that of the EEA/Norway agreement, or a customs union relationship with the EU, it would be still contributing to the EU budget, but on a lesser scale. Whatever the relationship, overall EU budgetary funds would be reduced.
This will place additional pressure on a policy sector which still consumes close to half of the Union’s annual expenditure. The moderating pressure of the UK, in alliance with the Netherlands and the Scandinavian member states, has hitherto been a major factor in the development of a less protective and more open agriculture trade policy. What effect will the absence of the UK from the Council of Ministers have on future policy development?