Above all, the differences between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on the future environmental ambition initially seemed insurmountable. In the end, the EU Commission clearly sided with the somewhat more ambitious negotiating team of the Parliament. The next round, officially scheduled for 24-25 June, is now expected to bring a breakthrough. It is also the last chance for the Portuguese Council Presidency to seal the reform before its term ends next week.
Fronts remain hardened
The fronts have not changed fundamentally since May. Among other things, the amount of the budget for the future eco-regulations in the first pillar and for environmental expenditure in the second pillar is still disputed. There are also still many question marks over conditionality, e.g. the obligatory standards for crop rotation or the successor to ecological priority areas. Whether an agreement will be reached is therefore not certain. At the same time, there is an urgent need for action. Only on Monday, the EU Court of Auditors found that the previous support system, despite a budget of €100 billion for climate protection, had failed to reduce emissions from agriculture.
Emotions, on the other hand, seem to be running high in the run-up. Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner attacked the EU Commission. The background is interesting here: a press release from the BMEL dated 15 June provides information on what might be upsetting Julia Klöckner and her European counterparts. It says: "The plenum [of the agriculture ministers] urged the EU Commission to fulfil its role as mediator between the Council and the Parliament. This has not been sufficiently the case so far, but it has repeatedly burdened the negotiations with its own and previously undiscussed aspects, some of which lack a legal basis."
In fact, the EU Commission had sent a proposal to the negotiators very late in the negotiations (on 11 June), which was supposed to anchor the objectives of the "Green Deal" more firmly in the CAP. The fact that the objectives of the particularly important farm-to-fork and biodiversity strategies are not yet legally binding had been used by the agriculture ministers in the past as an argument to prevent them from becoming the guard rails of the future CAP. Thus, the Council's position in October indirectly provides that the EU Commission should be prohibited from referring to the Green Deal when approving national strategy plans.
Controversial Green Deal
The EU Commission's latest proposal should put an end to this, albeit in a very timid formulation. Subsequently, the targets for pesticide reduction, landscape elements, etc. are mentioned in concrete terms. As soon as concrete laws emerge from the Green Deal, the member states are to inform the EU Commission whether the national strategy plans are still in line with these laws and, if necessary, improve them. It doesn't really get any gentler than this. The fact that the House of Klöckner and her counterparts are going on the barricades like this shows once and for all what they really think of the Green Deal, namely nothing. Like the devil fears holy water, the agriculture ministers are afraid that Brussels might tell them in future to put more of the agricultural billions into environmental protection or to use them more effectively.