The European Council has yet to give the green light. The ÖVP voted for it. The SPÖ, Greens and Neos criticize too many compromises when it comes to environmental protection.
387 billion euros are earmarked in the EU budget for the period 2021 to 2017 to support agriculture, how the money will be distributed is determined by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It was voted on in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday. A majority of the MPs voted in favor of the changes that aim to make agriculture in Europe more environmentally friendly and fairer. To this end, a stronger link between subsidies and the fulfillment of environmental requirements is planned in the future.
The approval was “more than just a step in the right direction for a performance-oriented, transparent and more effective agricultural policy in Europe,” said Ulrike Müller from the Free Voters, who were involved in the GAP negotiations. EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “This has been a difficult compromise, but I think it is the best compromise that could be reached”. He spoke of a “good result” that could ensure “the transition to more sustainable agriculture”.
Reluctance from Austria
The Austrian EU parliamentarians of the SPÖ, Greens and Neos had announced a “No”. A clear “yes”, however, came from the ÖVP. When an agreement was reached in June after several years of negotiations, these diametrical attitudes were already in place – and nothing has changed about them: For example, Simone Schmiedtbauer, agriculture spokeswoman for the ÖVP in the European Parliament, said at a media talk that she would “subscribe to the CAP” Don’t let anyone talk badly! “,” We have once again managed to find a compromise, that’s something nice, “she said of the agreement between EU states, parliament and commission in the summer.
SPÖ EU MP Günther Sidl, on the other hand, could not locate any of this in the new CAP, not even the reform that was actually being sought, but a “copy-paste of the old CAP with a few green dots that are also softened again” the Austrian SP parliamentary group decided to vote against them. Neither the “farm to fork” strategy nor biodiversity is taken into account.
“Collection of missed opportunities”
“The current agricultural policy is actually a collection of missed opportunities,” said Sidl. “The parliamentary draft, which in my opinion could have been more ambitious, has been consistently softened and watered down by the member states”. One could have steered a lot in a positive direction with this CAP: “We have to be very consistent with our agricultural policy when it comes to climate protection, but if you make exceptions, as it happened, then the next industry comes up with the question ‘why not in agriculture and with us already? ‘”feared the parliamentarian.
According to Sidl, there was only one progress, namely that if harvest workers or farm workers were illegally employed, this “competitive advantage” would mean the end of the production process. This social conditionality is a success of social democracy – a ray of sunshine that is otherwise only shaded.
Agriculture funds are the largest item in the EU budget and agriculture is responsible for around ten percent of EU greenhouse gas emissions, the European Court of Auditors recently estimated. The Greens will also vote against this, “knowing full well that there is a large majority in favor,” said their MEP Thomas Waitz.
The CAP would have been the chance that agriculture could have become part of a solution to the climate crisis – but it is not. There is nothing to be found in the CAP about the “Green Deal” and the strategies mentioned above, and they all have a disadvantage: “They are only strategies and not legislative proposals,” said Waitz. we do not follow our own strategies. “In agricultural policy there is indeed the possibility of acting more organically, but no state would do so, as one can see from the national strategic plans already in place – including that of Austria.
He is very curious to see whether EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski will carry out his announcement to send back their plans to those states that do not redistribute 10 percent of the funds from large to small farms as planned – in Austria it was just 7.5 percent. However, the fact that in Austria, under certain conditions, a conventional farm receives higher funding than an organic farm contradicts what the EU Commission and Parliament had planned.
Neos also criticize a lack of environmental protection
Neos mandate Claudia Gamon also rejects it: “This core element of EU agricultural policy is not the reform that we NEOS are calling for in European agricultural policy and that is needed in order to achieve the climate goals”. The compromise could be a step in the right direction, but not enough to make agriculture in Europe fit for the 21st century. “We can already see that climate and environmental protection are neglected in the implementation plans submitted by the member states,” said Gamon, who pointed out that the environmental NGOs in Austria were also rising to the barricades.
One of them, Global 2000, responded to today’s final vote on CAP reform. This originally promoted “green architecture” and an ecological trend reversal, but little was left. “Environmental ambitions for the European Green Deal are being undermined by the member states. With this CAP reform, the urgently needed change for the climate, biodiversity and rural agriculture in Europe is wasted.” said Brigitte Reisenberger, agriculture spokeswoman for the NGO, referring to the many exceptions.
As the new CAP was not negotiated in time, a two-year transitional provision will apply from 2020. A new seven-year GAP funding period will then apply from 2028 – provided the negotiations are concluded in good time this time.