After years of negotiations, EU lawmakers have voted to reform the bloc’s massive farm subsidy program – the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The agricultural deal worth € 386.6 billion will be implemented from January 1, 2023 and represents a third of the EU budget. This will be the bloc’s agricultural policy until 2027 and aims to meet the EU’s climate sustainability goals and support rural development.
It will also ensure fairer payments to farmers by providing € 270 billion in direct aid.
“We make sure that farmers are rewarded for their performance, their results,” German MEP Ulrike Müller said at a press conference after the vote.
Addressing Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, welcomed the reforms of the CAP. “This will foster a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that can support the livelihoods of farmers and provide healthy and sustainable food to society, while offering much more in terms of the environment and climate,” he said. .
But the CAP reforms have not been adopted by all EU lawmakers, with some arguing that they do not align with global climate goals and also go against the interests of the EU. small farmers.
German politician and European Green Party member Martin Häusling said: “This is a dark day for environmental policy and EU farmers.
Michal Wiezik, a Slovak member of the center-right European People’s Party, shared a similar sentiment, arguing that the only winners from CAP reforms are the oligarchs. “The reform fails to fit into biodiversity strategies. This reform should have been the solution, not the source of the problem,” he said.
A week before the crucial vote, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg also urged the EU to vote against the CAP.
Many environmental activists and EU officials are unhappy with how CAP reforms do not align with the EU’s Green deal – a set of proposals unveiled by the European Commission in 2020, to ensure that the bloc’s policies on climate, energy, transport and taxation reduce net greenhouse gases. at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
The new CAP green programs specify that 22% of all CAP payments will be spent on green agriculture from 2023 to 2024. This threshold will be raised to 25% from 2025 to 2027. Sommer Ackerman, 24, a young Finland-based farmer and climate activist says: “This deal claims to be ‘green’, which is almost laughable.”
“Currently around a third of the EU budget is spent on accelerating destruction, making this another deal on the EU’s list of greenwashing projects. The intensive agricultural model is fueling the climate crisis by causing biodiversity loss, soil degradation, adding to water and air pollution and overuse of natural resources, ”she told DW .
What are the other concerns about the CAP reforms?
Another aspect of the new agricultural regime which aims to ensure that farmers who receive subsidies will be protected by European labor law is “social conditionality”.
Maria Noichl, a German politician and member of the center-left Socialists and Democrats, welcomed the reform – but criticized the way in which CAP funding will be distributed.
“It’s not fair, because the very large agricultural consortia will again receive most of the money,” she told DW.
Since 2005, the CAP has already disbursed more than 50 billion euros in subsidies each year. Of this total, 80% goes to 20% of the largest agricultural holdings in the EU.
“As a young and future farmer, I want leaders to craft policies that help those who need it most, and don’t line the pockets of big factory farms,” Ackerman told DW.
Before the vote, Commissioner Wojciechowski also underlined that EU Member States will have the power to implement the CAP on the basis of their national strategies.
“The new CAP strikes the right balance between flexibility for Member States and insurance on CAP spending,” he told MEPs in Strasbourg.
Ramon Armengol, chairman of the agricultural lobby Cogeca, said: “National strategic plans must seriously consider the future of investments in agriculture and the innovations that we will need to feed the future of Europe.
Member States have until the end of the year to submit their implementation plans to the European Commission.
Will the reforms have a global impact?
As the CAP sets the direction for the EU’s agricultural sector, some environmental activists and EU officials have also highlighted how politics influences global trade, food security and biodiversity around the world.
“The EU must recognize how their policies affect people not only in Europe, but also around the world. The CAP is not just an EU policy, it is a global policy. She helps deforest the Amazon and helps exploit immigrant farm workers. which is not fair and is so often ignored, ”climate activist Ackerman told DW.
Moreover, as the EU tries to promote sustainable food systems in Africa, MEP Noichl told DW: “This is an export-oriented EU policy, which above all wants to enter into others
markets and dumping. It is a fact that products from Europe challenge African producers. “
Celia Nyssens, head of agricultural policy at the European Environment Bureau, says the new CAP has both short and long term effects.
“The EU will continue to overproduce products like milk and will continue to import products like soybeans from the United States, South America and Brazil. But in the long run, this has negative impacts on food security. world and the environment, ”she told DW.
“If the EU wants to set an example for countries around the world and become a visionary of green agriculture, this new CAP has not delivered that vision,” she added.
Edited by: Stéphanie Burnett