Thursday

20th Jun 2019

Commission eyes end of 'one-size-fits-all' farm policy

  • EU commissioner Jyrki Katainen (l) and Phil Hogan present their ideas about the future of the common agriculture policy (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission wants to give national governments more flexibility in how they implement the EU's long-controversial common agriculture policy.

"We have concluded that a one-size-fits-all approach to implementation is not always appropriate for a union of 500 million citizens," said EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan at a press conference on Wednesday (29 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Cows on a farm in Burgundy, France. The goals of the EU farming policy would remain the same for all states, but the implementation in France could differ from other countries (Photo: Stijn te Strake)

"There has been a lot of criticism in relation to complexity of policy and the manner in which it has been implemented," he added.

Hogan spoke at the publication of a 'communication', a commission strategy paper, about the future reform of the common agriculture policy (CAP).

"We are taking the bold step to give member states more subsidiarity," said Hogan.

He was flanked by commission vice-president Jyrki Katainen, in charge of jobs and growth.

In simple terms, the Finn summarised the proposed change as follows: "'What to do' is decided here [in Brussels], 'how to do' is decided more and more at national level. The policies stay here, but the implementation is more in the hands of the member states."

"We don't want to renationalise the CAP," Katainen added.

Hogan said that the one-size-fits-all approach was particularly unfit for the CAP's environmental goals.

"We will allow member states to define the practices that are most appropriate to their regional context. Measures which fit better to local conditions will deliver better for environment and climate," said Hogan.

The paper itself noted that although greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector have reduced by 24 percent since 1990, the sector needed to "step up" its contribution to limit climate change.

It said that "in the absence of stronger and more ambitious policy support it is unlikely that EU agricultural emissions will continue to decrease at the same pace".

National plans

To ensure that the national implementation of EU policies deliver the desired goals, member states will be required to send the commission 'strategic plans', which the EU executive would then have to "assess and approve".

Hogan noted that the commission has "a lot of experience in the to-ing and fro-ing" with member states on rural development programmes, and said that governments will have "about eighteen months" to discuss the plans with the commission.

According to the paper, member states will have to define "quantified targets" to make sure that the EU-level environmental and climate goals are reached.

The new policy should also give national governments flexibility on how they attract young farmers to take over agriculture businesses for the next generation.

Wednesday's paper itself is non-binding and not accompanied by legislative proposals. These will follow next year.

Disappointed environmentalists

However, the paper was still highly anticipated among interest groups - and in some cases met with disappointment.

Environmental lobby group WWF Europe expressed in a press release disappointment in the lack of clear targets in the paper.

The group said "the future legislative proposal will have to define legally-binding targets to ensure accountability at national level and avoid the misuse of 'flexibility' that we have seen in the past."

Their colleagues from Greenpeace also criticised the lack of concrete plans, and that it failed to mention that changing diets can have an effect on reducing agriculture's impact the climate.

"The industrial production and overconsumption of meat, milk and eggs in Europe is having a devastating impact on our health, nature and the climate," said Greenpeace.

"The commission's failure to even mention the problem shows the EU is asleep at the wheel while our food and farming system heads straight for disaster," it said.

Budget

The communication said nothing about how the CAP will be funded after 2020 because this is something that needs to be discussed through a separate procedure.

Discussions on the next multi-annnual EU budget, which will start next year, will focus on new priorities like security and migration policies, while the amount of money available is likely to shrink due to the UK exit from the EU.

"I am under strict instructions by the budget commissioner not to mention anything about money in the context of my communication, not to anticipate the multi-annual financial framework," said Hogan.

Visual Data

EU farming policy: The damage done by 20 years of inertia

The EU Commission will ask the public later this week how the common agricultural policy should be overhauled. Data from the past two decades reveals a catalogue of missed chances and failed reforms.

Meat 'taboo' debated at Bonn climate summit

Animal agriculture is responsible for a significant share of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but until recently it 'was an issue that was really brushed under the carpet'.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson vs. Hunt to replace May as UK leader
  2. EU leaders take aim at Russia's role in Ukraine
  3. EUobserver appoints new interim editor-in-chief
  4. Ombudsman: Tusk's staff should record lobby meetings
  5. Tusk now 'more cautious' on top jobs decision at summit
  6. Mogherini: my replacement 'needs security experience'
  7. Irish PM: 'enormous hostility' to new Brexit extension
  8. Merkel hopes to name commission chief by early July

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Additional summit over top EU jobs looms
  2. EU advisor roasted over Russian media interview
  3. EU must counter Kushner's so-called 'peace' plan
  4. Tusk wants quick deal on EU top jobs at Thursday summit
  5. EU keeps North Macedonia and Albania at arm's length
  6. What's going on in Moldova - and what next?
  7. EU officials prepare for US extravaganza on Palestine
  8. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us