Major change planned for EU farm environmental protection

By November 30, 2017 December 8th, 2017 News Posts

The European Commission plans a major change to its farm support system that will reward farmers for environmental protection instead of prescriptive ‘greening measures’ currently used.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Phil Hogan, outlined the plans in a 26-page Commission Communication The Future of Food and Farming in Europe describing it as a “significant step change in the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).”  Under the new plan, EU member states would bear greater responsibility on how they achieve policy objectives on sustainability, climate change and the environment.

Hogan said the current ‘greening measures’, where Brussels basically determined environmental practices, were a “one-size-fits-all approach [which] was not working given the significant differences in farm structures, production systems and climatic conditions.” In future, member states would define those practices most appropriate to their regional context under this “less prescriptive and simpler delivery model, “We are moving away from a compliance-based to a more result-driven policy design and performance-based approach.”

NGO public consultation success

The Communication noted that many of the issues of the current system had been identified in its public consultation as “the most burdensome and complex element of the CAP which limits its effectiveness.” The public consultation highlighted the success of an extraordinary, concerted NGO campaign calling for greater environmental protection. The consultation produced a record 323,000 responses from the public across the EU-28.

Yet NGOs remain critical in their response to the Communications claiming the Commission had missed an opportunity with Bird Life Europe saying the plans would do little to “fix the broken CAP” and that the plans failed to “acknowledge the seriousness of the environmental crises affecting European farmland, from the collapse of biodiversity to the exhaustion of soil & water resources.”

EU Public Consultation

The Commission’s plans will be discussed by the EU Agriculture ministers next month with formal adoption expected by the end of 2017.

Source: The Future of Food and Farming. European Commission Communication and AgraFacts