Saturday

24th Jun 2017

Parliament divided after MEPs water down CAP reform

  • MEPs have rejected radical change to the Common Agricultural Policy (Photo: Andrew Stawarz)

MEPs have voted to water down measures aimed at linking farm subsidies to environmental protection as part of reforms to the EU's Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

During a marathon, two-hour voting session in Strasbourg on Wednesday (13 March), deputies decided to allocate an initial 3 percent of farmland for wildlife.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Although this would rise to 5 percent in January 2016, it is a significant weakening of the 10 percent proposed by the European Commission. However, MEPs backed the commission's proposal to make at least 30 percent of subsidies dependent on environmental protection.

The Green group led criticism of the decision with agriculture spokesman Jose Bove describing it as being "even worse for the environment than, and just as unfair as, the current model."

MEPs "utterly failed to seize an historic opportunity to overhaul EU agricultural policy," he added.

The vote marks the first time that MEPs have enjoyed equal legislative powers with governments on the CAP, traditionally the largest single budget line for EU spending.

Speaking with reporters following the vote, Paolo De Castro, the Italian chair of the Agriculture committee, said that an intensive programme of thirty 'trialogue' meetings between MEPs and ministers would start in April.

A deal could be reached before the end of the Irish presidency in June, De Castro said.

MEPs voted on four regulations dealing with direct payments to farmers, as well as rural development and the rules governing agricultural produce.

Farm subsidies could be capped at €300,000 per farm, although critics claim that farmers could split their land administratively to increase access to funds.

MEPs also decided that no country's farmers should receive less than 65 percent of the EU average.

While the four dossiers all received majority support based on an alliance between the centre-right EPP and the Socialist group, the Liberal and Green groups led opposition to parts of the package, warning that they could return Europe to the "bad old days of food mountains."

German liberal Britta Reimers remarked that the provisions to re-establish a milk quota and to delay the phasing out of quotas on sugar production heralded a "return to failed policies of the past."

But Michel Dantin, a French centre-right deputy leading the parliament's negotiating team, said that the revised payments regime would serve as a "safety net rather than a return to the days of wine lakes and butter mountains."

Parliament also voted in favour of publishing the names of all recipients of EU money and agreed on a list of land-owners, including airports and sports clubs, to be automatically excluded from receiving subsidies unless they could prove that the land was being used for farming.

However, MEPs are still in the dark over the funding levels provisionally allocated to individual member states. Capoulas Santos said that it was a "genuine scandal" that the Parliament had been given no official figures by governments.

Although the CAP funds proposed by the Commission are set to be cut by 11 percent in the next seven year cycle, it still totals €373 billion, including €278 billion in direct subsidies.

Poland calls for overhaul of EU agricultural funding

Poland's top farm official has brandished the EU's common agricultural policy as "two-speed" and common "only in name", calling for a new system with reduced direct payments for farmers and increased money to help restructure the sector.

MEPs can unpick EU farm subsidies deal

Agreement on EU farm subsidies remains far from clear, after the European Commission said the European Parliament could unpick the deal reached last week at the EU budget summit

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Italy reaches EU deal on failing bank

After months of negotiations, the European Commission and Italy agreed on the terms of rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, including job cuts, salary caps and private sector involvement in the bailout.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit