EU seals deal on major agricultural policy reforms

The European Parliament and EU governments today agreed on a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said. 

The deal maps out how €270 billion of budget funds will be spent on farms until 2027.  

The final agreement, which has already been delayed by two years, comes after the talks failed in May because the negotiators couldn’t find common ground on how much money should be set aside for greener agricultural practices. 

Today’s deal is a compromise that aims to balance the interests of farmers and national governments on one side and the green ambition of the European Commission and some members of the European Parliament on the other. 

Green MEPs said that the agreement didn’t go far enough in securing environmental standards, and that they would oppose it during the final plenary vote. 

The negotiators agreed 25 percent of the budget allocated to countries should be set aside for eco-schemes in the first pillar, which represents direct payments to farmers and constitutes the lion’s share of the CAP. There would also be 35 percent ring-fence for environmental spending in the smaller second pillar, dedicated more to rural development.  

However, the main bone of contention focuses on a “rebate” loophole that will cut countries some slack on the all-important eco-schemes if they have spent more than required in pillar two.

“On some points we may have wished for a different outcome but overall I think we can be content with the agreement we have achieved,” Wojciechowski said.

The new proposal also introduces a “social conditionality”mechanism which will link direct payments for farmers with complying with the workers’ rights. The proposal says this will kick in voluntarily as of 2023, and be mandatory from 2025.  

The CAP deal’s three regulations will now have to be rubber-stamped by EU agriculture ministers on Monday, and by the plenary of the European Parliament later this year.

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