News 18.04.2024

European Commission seeks to weaken agricultural policy

  • politics and law
  • Transparency and food safety

Rushed EU Agriculture Policy amendments: foodwatch calls on Members of the European Parliament to reject dangerous proposals for the environment and the future of farming.

Natacha Cingotti is Senior Campaigns Strategist at foodwatch international. 

Next Thursday 25th April, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be asked to cast their vote on the European Commission recent proposal to alter the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), one of the chunkiest and most budget-heavy pieces of legislations.  

foodwatch, alongside numerous other civil society groups, has opposed the changes proposed, which would remove existing environmental conditionalities to the payment of EU subsidies. We now call on MEPs to reject them in the interest of farmers, consumers and society. 

Here are three reasons why foodwatch calls on MEPs to reject the proposal: 

1. Inadequate answer to farmers demonstrations  

Earlier this spring, tractors were driving through and blocking the city streets in Brussels and other capitals. These widespread demonstrations have been misleadingly used by the European Commission to propose significant changes to the CAP. The proposed amendments would increase reliance on harmful substances such as pesticides and fertilisers, and disadvantage farmers in the long run, favouring major agricultural corporations. This is in total contradiction to the EU promises under the Green Deal and the urgency to act upon the climate and environmental emergencies. 

2. The subsidies will mostly benefit those who harm the environment 

For the period 2021 to 2027, no less than 387 billion euro are allocated to the CAP, a heavy weight among EU laws. Although the CAP already has loopholes, to receive the money, farmers need to respect minimal environmental requirements. But eliminating the existing environmental conditionalities would mean that public money will mostly encourage environment damaging agricultural practices (large-scale farming, use of pesticides etc.) instead of the much-needed transition towards sustainability. 

3. Fast-tracked decision-making 

The CAP represents a huge budget, of which allocation is a lengthy process, involving broad consultations. Yet, alarmingly, the proposed changes are being rushed through the decision-making process just before the end of the legislative phase. The proposal was only discussed with a handful of farmers’ unions without broad societal consultations and without any impact assessment in due form. 

Therefore it’s essential to remind our representatives of their duty to protect our health and our environment, consumers at large, and their accountability to us as voters. A tweet can go a long way. Express your concerns and urge them to vote against these hasty, ill-considered changes.