Tuesday

24th May 2016

EU farm proposals will 'make mockery' of green targets

A Danish EU presidency report on reforming the EU's farm subsidy policy - the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) - has caused uproar in a leading pro-green NGO.

The Danish report, out on Monday (18 June), reveals that intense discussions are under way among member states on European Commission ideas for enticing farmers to introduce environmentally friendly farming techniques.

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  • Each EU citizen pays around €105 per year to CAP, of which €80 goes directly to farmers (Photo: Notat)

Rural development and pro-environment farming was to have been given more priority in the EU's €55 billion a year farm subsidy policy.

The commission wanted to link 30 percent of the EU's €55 billion farming hand-outs to pro-environment farming practices, such as crop diversification and retention of permanent grasslands and ecological focus areas.

Most member states agree in principle with "greening" the CAP, but are pushing for flexibility to let individual countries tailor the changes to their needs.

They also say it would involve too much red tape to introduce the principle on a top-down EU-level model.

For its part, pro-green NGO the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says the flexibility amounts to loopholes that will let EU countries "pick and choose" reforms in line with their own interests instead of for the good of the environment.

"What started out as an optimistic and measured proposal by the commission in October has now ended up becoming a Frankenstein policy, which addresses neither the environmental challenges we are facing nor providing adequately for our long-term food needs," WWF's Europe director Tony Long said.

He noted that some member states want to reduce by half the 30 percent farm subsidy tied to pro-environment farming.

"The proposed rules on the negotiating table ... [will] make a mockery of trying to reach [the] desired outcomes."

Scientists say agriculture produces some nine percent of the EU's green house gas emissions and 75 percent of its nitrous oxide emissions, which pollutes ground water.

CAP is set to cost the EU €380 billion over 2014 to 2020 - each EU citizen pays around €105 a year to for the scheme, of which €80 goes directly to farmers.

The Danish progress report notes that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" on CAP refoms.

"I am convinced that green transition and growth are two sides of the same coin," Mette Gjerskov, Denmark's minister for food, agriculture and fisheries, said.

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