EU Policy. Ministers pave way to reopen CAP – and make it less green

EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Belgium's agriculture minister David Clarinval met with farmers after the ministerial meeting in Brussels.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Belgium's agriculture minister David Clarinval met with farmers after the ministerial meeting in Brussels. Copyright EUROPEAN UNION/EUROPEAN UNION
By Gerardo Fortuna
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Agricultural ministers meeting in Brussels today (26 February) backed the idea of reopening the EU’s farming subsidies scheme starting by dismantling its green architecture.

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Ministers greeted a package proposed by the EU executive to address concerns from the farming community, including loosening green elements in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and reduction of on-farm checks.

“These measures will be a first concrete step in the right direction. But the EU Council believes that this is not enough,” said Belgium’s agriculture minister David Clarinval, representing the rotating presidency of the council.

EU ministers have invited the commission to beef up its package of measures with new and more ambitious ideas involving an even greater flexible implementation of green conditionality and simpler coordination of controls.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said the EU executive will look into reducing obligatory measures required to receive aid in the contested green architecture of the CAP – which includes measures on set-aside, permanent grassland, and soil cover – and convert these to voluntary criteria.

“Incentives are always better than forcing farmers for more green environmentally friendly practices,” said Wojciechowski.

For the Polish Commissioner, this move would not undermine the EU climate-related goals. “I think many farmers will do it voluntarily if they receive certain financial incentives,” he said adding that some of these so-called eco-schemes have proved quite popular among farmers already.

This would likely lead to reopening the core act of the CAP’s national strategic plans, agreed by lawmakers in 2021.

“I think the voice was really strong, and there is a majority in favour of that idea [of reopening the CAP]," said Wojciechowski.

According to the commission, short-term proposals it has already tabled could receive parliamentary backing during this mandate.

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