Following a fortnight of tough negotiations over the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the overwhelming majority of the EU’s 27 Agricultural Ministers rejected all major environmental measures in future CAP. Earlier in March, the European Parliament had rejected a catastrophic proposal by its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI), which had attacked all environmental measures included in the European Commission’s proposal (e.g. linking with existing EU legislations on water and pesticides) and supported the provision of double subsidies to farmers for the same environmental activity.
The most serious environmental failures of the position voted by the Agricultural Ministers are the following:
- Massive exemptions for greening obligations of Direct Payments: it would mean that farmers can automatically obtain the 30% of direct payments related to the greening requirements;
- No minimum spending on the environment in Rural Development: No mandatory thresholds on environmental measures;
- Removal of key environmental protection legislation proposed by the EC, such as improvements to the Water Framework Directive and the Pesticides Directive;
- Double funding: This astonishing policy construct aims at providing double subsidies to farmers for the same environmental activity. This illegal measure could cost up to €21 billion of scarce public money over seven years.
“EU ministers have scandalously pushed through measures that will allow many farmers avoid key elements of the greening requirements despite the European Parliament’s support for these measures. This is counterproductive for farmers, the public and of course nature.”, stated Tony Long, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office.
“It is also outrageous that at a time of severe austerity agricultural ministers have decided to support double subsidies for farmers for undertaking the same measures. This will illegally waste scarce public money.”
A final political agreement on the new CAP is expected to be reached before the end of June.