The European Commission must not greenwash the Common Agricultural Policy

We are pleased to welcome this guest post by Célia Nyssens and Bérénice Dupeux, Policy Officers for Agriculture at the European Environmental Bureau.

Will the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) deliver on the agriculture-related objectives of the European Green Deal?

This question has been asked of the Commission countless times since the Green Deal was announced. On 20 May, alongside its Farm to Fork (F2F) and Biodiversity Strategies, the Commission sought to give a definitive, reassuring answer. But the answer only reaffirmed our concerns. In a Staff Working Document, the Commission emphasised the “potential” of the CAP to deliver on the EU Green Deal (EGD), but it also explicitly recognised several weaknesses, namely:

  • The lack of ringfencing for eco-schemes and the omission of key animal welfare laws in conditionality
  • The risk of key aspects of the proposal being watered down in the co-decision process, particularly conditionality rules and the performance framework
  • The need to rely on Commission officers to “carefully assess” the national CAP Strategic Plans to avoid harmful subsidies, especially regarding coupled income support
  • The need for member states to set national targets against the objectives of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, with no legal provisions to that effect in the CAP framework

Head in the sand

This Commission analysis is unconvincing.

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Coronavirus uncertainty as CAP decisions are postponed

There is increasing focus on how the coronavirus pandemic is likely to affect agricultural markets, food supply chains and farm incomes (for example, the series of IFPRI Resources and Analyses on COVID-19). Panic buying of long-life staples – as well as toilet roll, of course – led to temporary shortages on supermarket shelves but supplies were very quickly replenished.

In the medium-term, there are concerns that labour shortages, logistical difficulties in transporting goods across borders and falling export demand have the potential to cause disruption. The various actors in the European food chain issued a statement on 19 March calling attention to likely operational difficulties and asking the Commission to ensure that free movement of goods within the single market can continue, including through managing ‘green lanes’ at borders, to allow the food chain to function effectively.

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