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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The Article 92 commitment to increased ambition with regard to environmental- and climate-related objectives

Article 92 of the draft CAP Strategic Plan regulation is headed “Increased ambition with regard to environmental- and climate-related objectives”. In my previous discussion of the proposed green architecture in the CAP post 2020, I interpreted this Article as a commitment to no back-sliding on expenditure on agri-environment and climate objectives in the new CAP. For this reason, I took a more positive view of the potential of the new legislation to live up to the Commission’s declared ambition in this area than reflected in initial statements from environmental NGOs.

In the wake of further conversations with Birdlife Europe who have had the benefit of discussions with DG AGRI officials, I conclude that my initial interpretation of Article 92 as guaranteeing no back-sliding in expenditure was incorrect.

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Leaked draft of the Commission Communication on Future of the CAP

Brussels has been buzzing in the past week since copies of the draft Commission Communication on the Future of the CAP which is set to be launched on 29 November next were leaked – you can read it and download a copy from the ARC2020 website. The status of this document is not clear – my guess is that this is the version that has been prepared by DG AGRI for the Inter-Service Consultation process which normally takes two to three weeks. This is where DG AGRI would get the formal opinion of the other DGs on its proposal, which it would then take into account in its final Communication.
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