Agriculture in the European Green Deal

The Commission published its Communication on the European Green Deal in mid-December 2019. Previously flagged in Commission President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines for the new Commission, it defines the key political objectives of the new Commission for the next five years.

The headline commitment is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 (while conflating the EU with Europe may seem like over-reach by the Commission, it should be remembered that other European countries, most recently Switzerland, either participate in or are linked to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the UK government’s preference is that it will remain associated after Brexit).

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The start of von der Leyen’s Commission Presidency

Ursula von der Leyen, then the German Minister for Defence, emerged as the surprise choice of the European Council leaders at their meeting on 21 June 2019 following their inability to agree on any of the Spitzenkandidaten. After an amazingly short period to read herself into the brief, she presented her Political Guidelines for the new Commission and summarised these in her oral presentation as part of her confirmation hearings in front of the European Parliament on July 16 2019.

Leaders of four of the Parliament’s political groups (the EPP, S&D, Renew Europe and the Greens, sometimes called the pro-EU parties to distinguish them from the more Eurosceptic parties both on the left and on the right – it is a handy tag though I am not comfortable using that description which is inherently exclusionary) had attempted to come together and, for the first time, to forge a common political platform and a common candidate for the Commission Presidency.

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Karl Falkenberg’s reflections on the CAP

Karl who, you might well ask? Well, Mr Falkenberg has just published a reflections paper setting out a European vision for sustainability which goes into some detail about his views on the future of EU agricultural policy. Indeed, one-fifth of his relatively short document is devoted to this topic. You might well shrug that yet another viewpoint added to the hundreds of others (including those aired on this blog) discussing how Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy should be reformed after 2020 is hardly worth getting exercised about. But Mr Falkenberg’s views may deserve more attention than most.

After all, Mr Falkenberg spent more than six years as Director-General in DG ENVI after a distinguished career in the Commission civil service including a stint as Deputy Director-General in DG TRADE.

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Leaked Commission figures sound death knell for biodiesel

Euractiv has a post purporting to contain the default carbon emission values to be assigned to biofuels made from feedstocks such as palm oil, soybean or sugar beet when the European Commission releases its proposed legislation on biofuels and indirect land use change later this spring, based on a leaked draft of the proposal.

Any application of the leaked values would severely hamper the ability of biodiesel manufacturers to enter into the EU’s new biofuels certification plan, announced last August.

Assuming that the EU does not relax its overall target for renewable energy in transport fuel (10% by 2020), if biodiesel fails to make the grade this would raise the demand for bioethanol made either from domestically-produced sugar beet or imported either from Brazil or Southern Africa.

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