CAP to contain major environmental loophole says EEB

An internal document from last week's Agriculture Council substantially weakens the potential positive impact of environmental conditions to farm subsidies, says the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

Last week the Council of European Agriculture Ministers agreed to adopt the principle of cross compliance in the Common Agricultural Policy, i.e. attaching environmental conditions to direct payments to farmers, but added a “statement for the minutes” to the text, which says “the Commission will, to a large extent, refrain from intervening in the application of the [cross compliance] clause by Member States”.

The EEB claims that “knowing the opposition from most member states to cross compliance, this can only mean that they expect the EC to keep quiet as they decide to apply environmental conditions that all farmers can easily fulfil. In other words: non-conditions will apply in most member states”.

The Council’s statement for the minutes illustrates the member states’ fears for a too strict Commission. It interprets the article on cross compliance to give “Member States very wide discretion in deciding on the measures to be taken”. It goes on to conclude that therefore “the Commission will […] exercise its powers in this matter with the appropriate prudence”.

Cross compliance was hailed by the European Commission as one of the elements which made the CAP truly green. Moreover, the Commission has always emphasised that it concerns an obligation, not an option. With the Council’s statement for the minutes, EEB says this obligation is effectively ruled out and is thereby convinced that the CAP reform has not brought about the greening of the core of the CAP at all.

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