Study commissioned by the Agriculture Committee confirms: The new CAP contradicts the Green Deal

A study commissioned by the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee shows major areas of conflict between the EU Commission's Green Deal plans and the compromise on the new CAP decided in the European Parliament.

As a reminder, the Agriculture Committee's intransigence led to a demonstrative withdrawal of the Environment Committee from the CAP negotiations. Now the members of the Agriculture Committee and the parliamentarians who voted for the new CAP have received the scientific status of its reform in black and white directly on the table. What exactly does it say?

The study always compares the reform of the CAP with the goals of the Green Deal. In this way, it is made clear that many interventions in current practice are necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. These include a reduction in the amount of nitrogen used as fertiliser, a reduction in livestock numbers, and significant changes in land management practices and systems. Large plots and the use of pesticides are causing a further decline in biodiversity and soil degradation, as well as the emission of nutrients into water and the atmosphere have reached alarming proportions. The scientists are clear in their demands on the CAP. They see it as extremely difficult to achieve the goals of the Green Deal without decisive changes to the CAP. They also criticise the fact that there are no ambitious approaches to influence consumer behaviour in the direction of an environmentally friendly diet.

Three rescue packages for the Green Deal

Direct demands are made.

  • Package 1: Avoidance of previous inefficient processes in order to reduce the use of resources. Innovations and incentives are required. Implementation should take place in such a way that the impact on farmers' incomes is positive.
  • Package 2: Technical and policy measures to transform farming systems.
  • Package 3: Changing dietary habits. This requires involving the food industry in the programme to make products healthier and more sustainable. Thus, a more plant-based diet should be disseminated. It is important to note that lower-income households can also make these changes.

The researchers also get specific in the amendments to the Commission's 2018 proposal. In order to achieve the goals of the Green Deal, strict environmental requirements are to be laid down in the conditionality. The polluter pays principle and the common good are to be taken as benchmarks. In addition, the second pillar should focus more on the locality of the products.

Many question marks behind national implementation

The implementation of Green Deal targets through CAP National Strategic Plans (NSPs) is largely unresolved. The unclear legal status, undefined methods of calculation and undefined methods of achieving the national targets are presented as the biggest obstacles. The current performance indicators simply make it impossible to monitor compliance with the targets. Thus, it remains difficult to track whether the funds are actually being used for environmental and nature conservation purposes.

Poor implementation of the Green Deal harbours dangers

At the same time, implementing the Green Deal without a well-founded impact assessment can have negative ecological consequences. A possible increase in the demand for agricultural land due to extensification could lead to a shift of environmental damage to other countries. In addition, some of the Green Deal's objectives could lead to a decrease in farmers' incomes and an increase in food prices. These problems should be mitigated by changing the eating habits of the population and by smart trade policies.

In summary, the researchers say that it is possible to bring EU agriculture into line with the goals of the Green Deal. This requires policies that address the whole food chain. First and foremost, however, the CAP must be aligned with the goals of the Green Deal.

Will the scientists go unheard?

Let us hope, then, that the self-commissioned report is heard within the Agriculture Committee and does not continue to be the lapdog of the agricultural industry. The parliamentarians who voted for the new CAP should also question whether they want to continue on a path that ignores the reports of their own institutions such as the scientific service or the EU Court of Auditors.

The study is available here

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