French citizens have spoken on agriculture, but will it have any effect?

Bale of hay

The public consultation entitled “ImPACtons”, has two aims: to enable French citizens to discuss the Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP, (PAC in French), which is currently being renegotiated, and to draw up a “national strategic plan” which will be submitted to the European Commission.

The consultation was launched in September in a variety of forms, including a participative platform for online debate and a “Citizens’ Assembly on Agriculture”, as well as debates organised in various cities, and one of them, held in Saint-Brieuc, was found to be quite the success as confirmed by Ilaria Casillo, vice-president of the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) and organiser of the event.

But the question is whether the debates will achieve their goal of enabling citizens to influence the direction of agricultural policies and what will become of the proposals and directions [emanating from these debates]?”

This remains unclear, as conservative EPP MEP Anne Sander told broadcaster France Culture, especially given that citizens’ proposals for the government are piling up and discontent is growing.

Despite doubts over its efficacy, the participants in the Citizen’s Assembly for Agriculture have drawn up a new “social contract” designed to help France’s agriculture ministry in drawing up the next common agricultural policy. But the agreement reached by the agriculture ministers in the EU Council and the votes in the European Parliament suggest it might be an uphill struggle.

As Sander underlines, as public debates are “always positive”, it is also necessary to “do something about it afterwards” filling the gap between citizens’ expectations and implemented policies.

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