Bad foul play in the EU Parliament

EU agriculture ministers are currently meeting in Luxembourg to officially negotiate the CAP, the EU food strategy and fisheries. The Council's negotiating position on the CAP is expected today.

There seems to be satisfaction on the part of the ministers and also the agricultural associations that a compromise is very close. Minister Julia Klöckner, on behalf of the German Council Presidency, has dismissed the Green Deal as a mere "vision" of the EU Commission that has little to do with the reality of the CAP for the time being. This has certainly allayed some of the lobby's fears that fundamental ecological changes are to be expected with the coming CAP reform. As is already a certain tradition, the agriculture ministers are not expected to do much to harm the industry.

The lobby groups seem to be more nervous about the European Parliament, which will soon be negotiating on an equal footing with the Council. The alliance of conservatives, social democrats and liberals that has come about represents progressive positions on the CAP in only a few points - but does not meet the actual requirements of nature compatibility and climate neutrality at all. Their compromise package recently became known and has since been heavily criticised, also from the ranks of their own people, especially among the Social Democrats calling themselves "The Progressives". Alongside this package, however, a large number of competing and more far-reaching amendments were tabled and were due to be voted on between Wednesday and Friday. Quite potential for movement, hence now a precautionary counter-attack that can be called foul?

Usually, the more than thousand amendments are sorted through voting lists, summarised, translated and then discussed in the parliamentary groups. This way, the MEPs can form an opinion. The timetable was already extremely ambitious, but yesterday evening (19.10.) news from inside the Parliament suddenly hit like a bombshell. The President of the European Parliament, the Socialist David Sassoli, had decided to start the vote already this Tuesday afternoon, directly with an en bloc vote on the black-red-yellow "compromise proposal". Separate votes on its individual components would be ruled out. Should this "deal" be accepted, all "complementary" motions would then be obsolete, i.e. there would be no more votes on motions touching on the issues of the adopted bloc. Thus, many progressive motions, for example from the Environment Committee, would not be put to the vote.

In practice, this also means that the anti-reform deal would be waved through before all the voting lists have been finalised and the amendments have been properly translated into all languages. The parliamentary groups would no longer have any possibility at all to discuss their voting behaviour adequately. The first reactions were indignant and also pointed to clear breaches of the rules by the President.

If anyone wants to criticise the EU institutions for backroom deals, this is a particularly dramatic one. For it is here that decisions are made on the use of a third of the EU budget and on how half of the EU's land area will be farmed in future. Apparently in the interest of those who do not want to change anything in the lucrative system, procedural tricks are being used to slow down the reformers.

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