STRASBOURG, France – Lawmakers who helped broker a deal with governments on reforms to the European Union’s huge farming subsidy programme urged the European Parliament to give it the final green light on Tuesday.
The deal reached in June ended an almost three-year struggle over the future of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, and accounts for about one third of the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget — spending about 387 billion euros ($436 billion) on farmers and support for rural development.
The new CAP rules, which would apply from 2023, aim to shift money from intensive farming practices to protecting nature, and reduce the 10% of EU greenhouse gases emitted by agriculture.
The reforms have a good chance of being approved by the European Parliament later on Tuesday. But environmental groups and some lawmakers say they do not align farming with EU goals to fight climate change and that many of the measures planned to encourage farmers to shift to environmentally friendly methods are weak or voluntary.
“I’m urging you, please, in the interest of the European farmers, in the interest of the climate, to vote in favour,” said Peter Jahr, a German member of the European Parliament.
Addressing criticism of the reforms, he said compromises were needed.
The executive European Commission’s agriculture chief, Janusz Wojciechowski, said the reforms would “foster a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that can support the livelihood of farmers and provide healthy and sustainable food for society while delivering significantly more in terms of environment and climate.”
The reforms would require 20% of payments to farmers from 2023-2024 being spent on “eco-schemes”, rising to 25% of payments in 2025-2027. At least 10% of CAP funds would go to smaller farms and all farmers’ payments would be tied to complying with environmental rules.
The deal also creates a 450-million-euro crisis fund in case agricultural markets are disrupted by an emergency such as a pandemic.
($1 = 0.8880 euros)