Sunday

15th Dec 2019

Magazine

More sustainable agriculture, with smaller budget

  • AGRI chairman Norbert Lins (EPP, Germany) will be looking at do more with less, under a reduced budget (Photo: European Parliament)

The agricultural sector is one of the world's most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. However, thanks to new technologies and modern farming techniques, emissions linked to agriculture are expected to decrease - keeping in mind the climate targets set by the EU for 2030 and 2050.

During the next five years, the workload being developed by the committee on agriculture and rural development (AGRI), chaired by German centre-right MEP Norbert Lins, is mainly focussed on making the common agricultural policy (CAP) more efficient and sustainable.

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However, the Mercosur trade agreement - and its impact on European farmers and the EU's food chain - will be also priorities on this committee's agenda, especially since AGRI must ensure that the food coming from third countries has the same standards as here, Lins said.

The CAP is one of the EU's most important common policies, being dominantly high on the agenda of the European Parliament.

The outgoing European Commission presented in 2018 a legislative reform on the post-2020 CAP, which is seen as one of the most important mechanisms to both support and green environmental and climate action in the EU agricultural and forest sectors.

The AGRI committee in cooperation with the ENVI (committee on environment, public health, and food safety) will work constructively on the proposal of the commission to ensure that the new green deal and the EU agricultural policy will go hand-in-hand.

One of the biggest challenges for this committee will be making the agriculture policy fit the adaption and mitigation of climate change with less budget.

According to Lins, the new eco-schemes and climate measures, as well as the afforestation and bioenergy crops schemes under rural development, are positive aspects of the proposal post-2020 CAP.

Eco-schemes refers to a new stream of funding for the environment and climate from the CAP's direct payments budget, which is mandatory for member states (but the design up to them) and voluntary for farmers.

However, Lins wonders if all these new actions can make much of a difference on their own - "the potential of these elements might be limited also by the budget cuts," he warned.

Until now, approximately 38 percent of the EU's budget (€58bn) was spent on agriculture and rural development - equivalent to 0.4 percent of the Union's GDP.

However, the EU commission proposed to reduce by around five percent the funding for the CAP as the EU will face fewer contributors, with a future union of 27 members.

The implementation of the CAP reform is expected by the beginning of 2021 as the debate over the size and nature of the CAP spending feeds affects the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) - the EU's long-term budget.

However, this process could be postponed beyond 2021, according to the lobby group for organic farmers IFOAM.

The coordinators of the AGRI committee, who manage their political groups' viewpoint on the topics before the committee, are Herbert Dorfmann (EPP, Italy), Paolo de Castro (S&D, Italy), Ulrike Müller (Renew, Germany), Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA, Germany), Ivan David (ID, Czech Republic) and Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL, Ireland).

It is not clear who the coordinator of ECR is.

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.

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