· Naturefund

Grand Coalition in the European Parliament positions itself against agricultural turnaround

Whereas last week the European Parliament committed itself by a large majority to a clearly ambitious climate protection, the EPP, S&D and Renew are now laying the foundation for a failed agricultural reform.

"Green Deal" in danger

Ursula von der Leyen's lighthouse project, the "Green Deal", is thus in serious jeopardy. Above all, the implementation of the ambitious biodiversity and farm-to-fork strategies would be made virtually impossible with the compromise now found. A clear legal anchoring of these strategies in the CAP is completely missing. Important elements of the CAP, such as the so-called GAEC9 standard, which was supposed to contribute to the goal of setting aside 10% of the agricultural landscape for nature, have been decisively weakened.

In future, the obligatory percentage within the conditionality is to be only 5% and that only in relation to arable land. Grassland and permanent crops, which play an important role especially in Southern Europe, are dropped. The EPP, S&D and Renew also bring the old greening rules back into play through a footnote. Farmers would then be able to select catch crops and protein crops as an option again instead of hedges and fallow land. The EU Commission's original proposal is thus rendered meaningless.

Erosion of the eco-schemes

At first glance, it sounds good that at least 30% of the first pillar should flow into the eco-schemes in future. Unfortunately, the three groups agreed in the same breath to reserve at least 60% for inefficient and partly harmful direct payments.  In this way, Member States like the Netherlands, which actually want to invest more in environmental protection, are being thwarted.

It is also worth taking a look at what the member states can spend this money on in the future. In contrast to the original proposal of the EU Commission, it should be possible to compensate farmers for complying with national standards, as long as they go beyond the (minimum) EU framework.  Furthermore, farmers can exempt themselves from the requirements of the massively weakened conditionality by signing up for equivalent eco-schemes. The bottom line is that a large amount of money is reserved for this instrument. However, it remains highly questionable whether it will be used for measures that go beyond what farmers are already obliged to implement today.

In the second pillar, the three groups want 35% to flow into environmental protection, 5 percentage points more than in the Commission proposal. In return, 40% of payments for less-favoured areas should be eligible for this quota, despite the dubious environmental benefits of this instrument. However, the increase is likely to be eaten up by this, leaving less money for real dark green measures such as AUKM.

Capitulation of progressives

If one compares these proposals with other positions within the European Parliament, such as that of the Environment Committee, one sees a massive step backwards. Even compared to the position of individual groups such as the S&D, this negotiation result is a massive disappointment. Above all, the aforementioned S&D group hardly seems to have prevailed over Renew and the EPP.

This compromise has not yet been finally adopted. Before the vote in the plenary on 20 October, the MEPs of the progressive camp, who last week had still voted jubilantly for a tightening of the EU climate law, should urgently do some soul-searching. Declarations of intent and targets are all well and good, but the vote on the CAP is the first big test of whether MEPs are really serious about the Green Deal or whether greenwashing is good enough for them. It certainly isn't for future generations.

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