European Parliament Blasted For Adopting ‘Regressive’ CAP Reforms

Today marked the end of a week of debate around European CAP reform with MEPs facing criticism for 'voting against any meaningful reform'


3 Minutes Read

Factory farming chickens Much of the subsidy money will go towards unsustainable farming practices, say opponents of the policy - Media Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission

The European Parliament has come under fire for approving the common agricultural policy proposal in a vote earlier this afternoon.

Today marked the end of a week of debate around European common agricultural policy (CAP) reform. MEPs faced criticism earlier this week. Greenpeace said they ‘voted against any meaningful reform of the EU’s common agricultural policy’. 

This afternoon MEPs came to vote on whether to approve the CAP with its €387 billion subsidies package. Despite increasing pressure to #VoteThisCAPdown, out of the 688 MEPs who voted, 425 voted for the adoption of the CAP. Just 212 voted against, and 51 abstained.

Common Agricultural Policy

Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) takes up a huge chunk of the Union’s budget (around a third). Much of this money is given to farmers in the form of subsidies.

When recently discussing CAP reform, the Parliament’s environment committee recommended measures like cutting factory farming subsidies and increasing environmental funding. Many say these measures are crucial if the Union is to try and tackle the climate and ecological crises.

‘Maximum national spending limits’

But according to Greenpeace, the policy makes ‘no effort to limit spending on industrial animal farming’. In addition, it ‘would prohibit national governments from introducing higher environmental standards that farmers in their country would have to meet to get public subsidies’. 

Furthermore, it says, the regressive proposals would set maximum national spending limits on some environmental programs. Also, they will ‘scale down current requirements to leave space for nature on land farmed or to protect carbon-rich peatlands and grasslands’.

‘Climate goals jeopardized’

Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU’s agriculture policy director, spoke out following today’s CAP vote. He said: “The EU farm plan, as it stands, represents only the interests of the biggest industrial producers and the richest land-owners. 

“Ordinary farmers and nature have been cast aside by a handful of powerful MEPs with conflicts of interest. And, the EU’s climate goals have been jeopardized. Billions of euro of public money will drive farming further into climate catastrophe unless the European Commission scraps this plan and starts fresh.”

Simultaneously, the approved farming policy is ‘not in line with the goals of the European Green Deal he said. Nor the EU’s ‘farm to fork’ food plan and biodiversity strategy published earlier this year’. 

CAP Crisis

Others have consequently spoken out too. WWF tweeted: “Despite calls from citizens, farmers, scientists & NGOs, the European Parliament shut their eyes to the climate & biodiversity crises. They gave a rubber stamp to their #FutureOfCAP deal with almost no environmental credibility.”

Climate activist Annika Kruse added: “I’m devastated that the EU didn’t #VoteThisCAPdown. But not surprised. The EU has shown in the past that they are not capable of staying in line with 1.5. And as long and they’re listening to the fossil fuel industry more than to the science – this won’t change.”

Harriet Bradley is the agriculture & bioenergy policy office at Birdlife Europe. She tweeted: “And just like that, the European Parliament passes a death sentence for many species. It’s official the CAP is not in line with the #EUGreenDeal, by the Commission’s own admission.”

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