EU Policy. MEPs query fast-tracking farmer-friendly CAP reform

A fast-tracking process to approve the CAP reform was agreed by the Belgium's farm minister David Clarinval (R) and the chair of Parliament's AGRI committee Norbert Lins (L).
A fast-tracking process to approve the CAP reform was agreed by the Belgium's farm minister David Clarinval (R) and the chair of Parliament's AGRI committee Norbert Lins (L). Copyright Eric VIDAL/ European Union 2024 - Source : EP
Copyright Eric VIDAL/ European Union 2024 - Source : EP
By Gerardo Fortuna
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Some political groups appear unwilling to cede Parliament’s lawmaking prerogatives to fast-track eleventh-hour approval of major deregulation of the EU’s agricultural subsidies and soothe protesting farmers.


Three political groups threaten to derail an attempt to fast-track a modification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) designed to mollify protesting farmers during the last voting plenary of the current legislative term on 25 April.

The CAP simplification package proposed by the Commission in late February aims to cut red tape for farmers, by reducing green conditions required to receive CAP funding and providing exemptions from checks for farms under 10 hectares – which will affect 65% of CAP beneficiaries.

This week (15 April) the European Parliament’s agriculture committee (AGRI) opted to table the CAP reform measure directly to the plenary with no amendments, after MEPs last week decided to push the measure through using a special procedure. 

This fast-tracking mechanism was agreed last month by the Belgian presidency of the EU Council and AGRI chair Norbert Lins (Germany/EPP) in a bid to ensure the reform passed into law before the end of the Parliament's mandate. 

Since the measure was devised to address farmers’ protests, many MEPs – particularly those seeking re-election – see a swift rubberstamping as crucial.

For this to happen, however, Parliament must adopt the text agreed by the EU Council with no amendments, echoing the approval already given by the agriculture committee.

“If even one substantial amendment passes, it means the issue has to come back to the EU Council,” a Parliament press officer told Euronews.

An EU Council press officer confirmed that substantive modifications would require re-opening interinstitutional negotiations, though smaller amendments adopted by MEPs might be accepted subsequently by EU ministers.

“It is shameful that such a large majority of MEPs voted in support of muzzling democratic debate on a proposal that lacks any scientific evidence,” said Faustine Bas-Defossez from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

“It is no surprise” that the Greens will file several amendments, a party advisor told Euronews, adding: “They opened the box, we have got to put things in it.”

A press officer for the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group said that - although it was planning no amendments - nevertheless, "if others should submit something that changes the text for the better, we are of course willing to participate.”

A press officer for the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) told Euronews that although the party is still yet to discuss internally whether to file amendments, a common position will be reached next week.

“Our aim is to avoid possible distortions of the CAP and ensure that the ultimate goals of the Green Deal are somehow respected and not jeopardised,” the press officer said.

The socialists could tip the balance of any vote in favour of amendments, and in the wake of last week's overwhelming vote by the European Parliament calling for Ursula von der Leyen's appointment of Markus Pieper as SME envoy to be rescinded, the party has demonstrated a willingness to oppose the Commission chief's party line.

A spokesperson for the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) told Euronews that the party would not file any amendments to avoid the risk of approving even one by accident.

“The measures must be put into force now without any hesitation,” said Herbert Dorfmann (Italy/EPP) who is the group’s agriculture coordinator.

An ECR spokesperson said that the conservative group had no intention to table amendments.

Liberals, as always on agricultural issues, are split, with one group more pro-farmers and a side keener to uphold environmental issues, but are not expected to file amendments.

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