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26th Jun 2022

Green groups demand CAP now aligns with EU Green Deal

  • Auditors have previously criticised the lack of 'defined, specific and quantified targets' in the Common Agriculture Policy reform proposed by the EU Commission (Photo: David Stewart)

A group of environmental NGOs have called on the European Commission to align the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), proposed back in 2018, with the new ambitions set in the EU Green Deal.

"The new CAP framework must include stronger governance and stricter environmental safeguards to deliver on the Green Deal," reads the letter sent to the commissioner in charge of Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, ahead of the meeting of EU agricultural minister in Brussels on Monday (20 July).

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"[The commission] has the required powers to do so under the treaties and the legislative process allows sufficient time to act," it notes.

For the commission, one of the key elements for greening the CAP is to ensure that all 27 national strategic plans for agriculture are aligned with the Green Deal - and also with the new Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy.

These plans, built on nine specific objectives, need EU countries to show how they will achieve a higher level of ambition in their environment and climate objectives.

However, this formulation has been previously described as one of the core deficiencies of the CAP reform by civil society and EU watchdogs.

Impossible to measure

In 2018, the European Court of Auditors said these nine objectives "are not clearly defined, neither specific nor translated into quantified targets," therefore "lacking the elements of an effective performance system".

In the preparatory phase of the CAP strategic plans, the commission wants to make recommendations for member states based on an individual analysis.

However, NGOs like Greenpeace or ClientEarth have criticised that this non-legally-binding guidance allows member states to ignore the commission's recommendations.

Following a request by the European Parliament, the commission on Monday published an analysis that says the CAP reform has "the potential to accommodate the Green Deal's ambitions".

However, it also notes that "the capacity of the future CAP to accommodate the Green Deal's ambitions depends on various aspects - ranging from a suitable share of the EU budget to the key provisions of the commission's proposal which need to be maintained in the final CAP legislation".

These include new eco-schemes, a conditionality system, increased ambition in member states' strategic plans or data collection requirements.

"We need to ensure that we contribute to the Green Deal. The CAP is our tool to help farmers to deliver on this challenge," said the agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, during the debate with EU agriculture ministers on Monday.

Wojciechowski explicitly called on member states to reach an agreement on the share of direct payments that will be made to eco-schemes.

The commission's proposal establishes a minimum of 30 percent for specific environmental and climate-related objectives.

Most EU agriculture ministers were open about having a minimum budget for eco-schemes, but they insisted that financial flexibility would be key to ensure that farmers do not lose unused funds.

Vote in October?

Earlier this month, the majority of political groups' coordinators in the parliament's committee on agriculture agreed on a procedure that should lead to the plenary vote on the CAP reform in late October.

"The agri-food sector needs to be able to plan, and we will do our utmost to deliver the new Common Agricultural Policy as early as possible," said the committee chair Norbert Lins.

CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find

The European Court of Auditors has urged the European Commission to establish measurable commitments to tackle biodiversity loss caused by intensive farming - as the Common Agriculture Policy has so far failed to reverse this long-standing issue.

Row looming over 8.8 percent cut in CAP budget

The European Commission said on Tuesday that the updated budget for the Common Agrculture Policy will make farms "green, digital and more resilient". Meanwhile, countries like France and Spain welcomed the commission proposal as a step in the right direction.

EU 'climate bank' won't rule out carbon capture

The European Investment Bank has billed itself as the world's largest climate change action financier as it plans to phase out gas, oil and coal projects. It has, however, not ruled out backing carbon capture and storage technologies.

Recovery plan slammed for failing to tackle climate crisis

EU leaders agreed that about a third of the €750bn recovery package and the €1.074 trillion seven-year budget will be invested in projects contributing to climate action. However, environmental activists said that the package falls short on climate safeguards.

Opinion

Backroom deal will make CAP reform a catastrophic failure

MEPs will vote this week on a supposedly historical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which accounts for over one-third of the EU's annual budget. But as it stands, it is set to become a historical failure of catastrophic proportions.

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