Trilogue of superlatives

Negotiations are still ongoing between the EU Parliament, the Council of Agriculture Ministers and the EU Commission on the final shape of the European framework for the future CAP.

Trilogue is underway

In the end, the national implementation through the strategic plans, for example in Germany, is based on these so-called trilogues, which are currently being discussed in parallel in the Bundestag. In the meantime, there have been several rounds of negotiations and a multitude of technical working groups, trilogues, political trilogues and super trilogues have not yet been able to reach an agreement.

Now the next super-trilogue is to do the trick, in the form of a (in the words of EU Agriculture Commissioner Wojciechowski) jumbo trilogue on 25-26 May. In the meantime, the time pressure is so great that this time it might actually work, also because the EU agriculture ministers will be present in person to accompany the negotiations.

Where are the sticking points?

Before that, however, there are still some points of contention to be clarified, for which the negotiators have not yet been able to find a solution. One of the two biggest problems remains the so-called conditionality and here especially the question of how much crop rotation should be obligatory in the future. The answer to the question of what proportion of their land recipients of CAP funds will have to make available for nature conservation in future is also still pending.

In addition, it is still unclear how much money the member states will have to provide for voluntary environmental services, for example in the form of organic schemes in the first pillar. The higher the percentage, the lower the flat-rate area payments would be in future, but the higher the potential for broad-based nature conservation measures, which should ideally be attractively remunerated. The Parliament continues to demand 30%, the Council only wants to go up to a maximum of 25% and that only from 2025 (before that only 22.5%) and with a multitude of possible loopholes for the member states. The most far-reaching would be a so-called trial phase for the years 2023 and 2024 in which the member states would de facto not be obliged to invest a certain amount in these so-called eco-regulations.

Further calculation trickery in climate spending

A very technical question, but a very important one for environmental protection, is which CAP expenditure should count as investment in climate and nature protection in future. In future, 30% of the total EU budget is to be spent on climate protection and, from 2024, 7.5% on the protection of biodiversity (10% from 2026). In order to calculate how much the individual EU funds contribute to this overarching goal, a methodology is needed that captures climate and nature conservation spending.

In 2018, the EU Commission proposed a highly problematic mechanism for calculating climate expenditure from the CAP. This would ultimately amount to declaring 40% of the flat-rate area payments as climate protection, without any meaningful justification. This means that in the CAP, flat-rate percentages are to be applied to complete programmes without a hint of how the member states will use the funds from these in the future. The latter, however, plays only a subordinate role, especially in the case of direct payments; as an instrument, they are de facto not a climate protection measure. This is not only the view of NGOs, but also of scientists and the EU Court of Auditors. Unfortunately, both the agriculture ministers and the EU Commission insist on this outdated proposal.

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