Communication misses the opportunity to fix the broken CAP and address the environmental crises in Europe’s farmlands

29.11.2017

© Mathias Schäf

The CAP reform Communication just launched by Commissioner Hogan completely fails to acknowledge the seriousness of the environmental crisis affecting European farmland, from the collapse of biodiversity to the exhaustion of soil and water resources. It also fails to address the perversion of current Pillar I spending, the majority of the funding on entitlements that have no relation to any outcomes and that are mainly scooped up by the richest beneficiaries. The main new idea seems to be a massive increase in Member States’ freedom to spend the money as they see fit, but very little is clarified about how Member States would be held to account for still achieving common European objectives.
 

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “The Communication seems to be based on a state of denial. The disappearance of almost 80% of insects or half of farmland birds, or the hydrological collapse that we are seeing at the moment in Mediterranean regions of Europe, are not even featuring.”

 

He also stated: “Subsidiarity without accountability would mean transforming the CAP into a pure slush fund for regional politicians’ re-election campaigns. We are expecting something fundamentally different from the EU budget. The Commission has fully misunderstood the replies to the public consultation on the CAP. Commissioner Hogan stated that the majority of the respondents wanted the direct income support but this is in fact in full contradiction to the actual outcomes of the consultation where more than 80 % of the respondents called for a radical change.”
 

None of the environmental problems and few of the social and economic failures are acknowledged in the Communication.
 

There is no commitment to fund nature conservation, not even to provide the legally mandated EU co-funding for the Natura 200 network (other than a hazy roundabout passage where priority action frameworks are mentioned in a footnote).
 

The Communication does commit to improving coherence with environmental legislation, but remains extremely vague about how that would happen, beyond saying that MS would be much freer in combining measures and setting controls.
 

The Communication is clear that the fundamentally flawed nature of Pillar I as a system based on entitlements and not on contracts, and expenditure that does not need to be linked to specific objectives will remain.
 

The Communication is essentially silent on the introduction of new tools and procedures to ensure that MS are held accountable for the quality of spending and achievement of results, in order to avoid for example a repetition of the greening fiasco.
 

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “While the idea to combine more Member State flexibility with stronger accountability for results is a valid one, this weak and confused Communication cannot serve as the basis for the allocation of tens of billions of euros of taxpayers’ money. We now need the MFF proposal to take both the environmental crisis and the need to quality spending seriously, and make the CAP budget allocation contingent on clear and stringent objectives and strong and difficult to abuse delivery mechanisms.”

Tags
CAP, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
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