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Friday, 15 February 2013

A less green CAP- ahead of Parliament’s final vote

With the full Parliament due to vote on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on 12 March, environmental campaigners hope for a change of course after the Parliament’s agriculture committee in January and the EU Council budget deal on 8th of February both backed changes to weaken some of the Commission’s ‘greening’ proposals on environmental standards.
“EU leaders have created a CAP budget that is potentially worse than its current incarnation, with a smaller monetary commitment for Rural Development and a very weak greening of Direct Payments. When combined with the European Parliament’s AGRI Committee vote in January which killed off any meaningful greening and proposed illegal double subsidies for farmers, and the AGRI Council’s refusal to decide on the content of the CAP before knowing its final budget, we have a regime of continued blank cheques for harmful agriculture.” Sébastien Godinot, an economist in the WWF European Policy Office, said as part of a debate hosted on February 14 by the European Policy Centre and the WWF European Policy Office.
The Agricultural EP committee voted in January 2013 to exempt small farms from the so-called greening rules, as well as growers who meet individual member states’ environmental certification programmes. Under amendments adopted by the committee, farmers with less than 10 hectares of cultivatable land will be exempt and those with 10 to 30 hectares can apply for exemptions. According to the Parliament, the exemptions will apply to 82% of the EU’s farmers. In comparison, the Commission had recommended that only organic farmers should be exempted from greening schemes.
However, agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş has defended the proposals as fair to farmers and environmentally responsible.
First proposed in October 2011, the 2014-2020 CAP sought to strengthen environmental protections through mandatory standards for nearly all EU farmers. The proposals included a controversial provision to link 30% of direct payments to compliance with ‘greening’ measures, and preserve at least 7% of their land for ‘ecological focus areas’.
The European Commission plans for a 'greener' CAP (2014-2020 proposal), unveiled in October 2011, called for
•    Improving biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
•    Using direct payments to encourage farmers to rotate crops as a way to reduce fertiliser and pesticide use;
•    Preserve at least 7% of land for focus areas such as buffer areas or permanent grassland to help reduce emissions.
This will be the first time that the EP will vote on the CAP, respectively the EU multi  -annual budget.


Source: Euractiv, WWF