On Friday, June 25th, European Union negotiators finally struck a deal on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The agreement will be effective from 2023 to 2027 and includes 387 billion euros on payments to farmers and support for rural development.
It took roughly three years to conclude the complex negotiations for the renewal of the CAP for the next five years. This is not surprising, given that the agreement will use approximately one-third of the funds available in the EU budget. As often happens in these cases, multiple interests had to be reconciled, exponentially increasing the complexity of the debate and causing much controversy, which indeed will not stop with the imminent ratification of the agreement by both the European Parliament and the Agricultural Ministers of EU Member States.
The new CAP would require countries to spend 20% of payments to farmers from 2023-2024 and 25% between 2025-2027 on eco-schemes that protect the environment, marking “a real shift towards a greener & fairer CAP: we’ll dedicate more farmland to biodiversity, reward farmers who go the extra mile for climate & nature, and more funds will flow to small farms. It’s not perfect, but still a big step in the right direction.”, as tweeted on Friday by the European Commission’s vice president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans.
As might be expected, although it’s the first time that such environmental protection measures are included in the CAP, a few MEPs and environmentalist associations are far from satisfied. The allegation is that there is no alignment with the European Green Deal, and there are no mechanisms to effectively hold the beneficiaries accountable for any environmental damage. Their criticism certainly shows the complexity of the discussion on the future of agriculture and its many ramifications, ranging from environmental protection, social and economic considerations to the critical impact of subsidies, especially on some of the member states budgets’.
Is there a way to combine innovation, social responsibility and environmental sustainability in agriculture? While there is certainly more that needs to be done, since most of the budget will still benefit intensive and industrial farms, this CAP agreement seems to be going in the right direction, introducing essential changes that mark a new path with respect to the previous editions of the same deal. It could indeed form the basis for a more radical modification of the European policy on agriculture during the negotiations for the next five years (2027-2032).
In the meantime, work will continue intensively on new policies to improve the contribution of innovative technologies to improve the social and environmental impact. Re-Imagine Europa is proud to contribute to this effort through the Task Force on Sustainable Agriculture and Innovation. The Task Force’s first deliverables will be presented through a public event that will take place on July 22nd, 2021. Its title, “Beyond the Apple of Discord: Changing our Agri Culture”, is emblematic of the many contrasts that characterize this crucial topic. There will be updates soon, so stay tuned!