There was no agreement in Brussels on May 28 on the financing of the EU’s common agricultural policy. Ministers representing member states want less accountability, and MEPs want more ecology.
The European Council announced on May 28 that MEPs and representatives of the member states had failed to reach an agreement on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) intended to “green” European agriculture from 2023. Talks should resume in June, at a date not yet specified.
Quoted by AFP, the informal body of the Brussels executive chaired by Belgian Charles Michel specifies that after three days of negotiations, “a number of crucial issues remain unresolved”.
A new proposal from European agriculture ministers, meeting in the middle of the week in Brussels, was deemed by MEPs still too far removed from their environmental and social demands.
The Twenty-Seven had approved in October 2020 the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, with a budget of 387 billion euros for seven years, including 270 billion in direct aid to farmers, but they must imperatively come to an agreement with Parliament European.
But negotiations are stumbling over a key issue, that of “eco-regimes”, the bonuses granted to farmers participating in demanding environmental programs. MEPs are demanding that they represent at least 30% of direct payments to farmers. States have said they are ready to accept a 25% threshold, but blockages also remain on the possible transition period to put it in place.
The ministers also propose to reallocate unused funds on this percentage, to the chagrin of parliamentarians, who fear that this mechanism will lead to less endowment of these eco-regimes. States also want to remain free to define their content while MEPs are calling for their strict supervision and the alignment of national policies with European environmental and climate strategies (Green Pact, organic farming objectives, quantitative reduction of pesticides, etc. ).
“Economic sustainability” vs “environmental sustainability”
“We want to conclude an agreement, but not at any price”, explained on the morning of May 28 the Portuguese Minister Maria do Céu Antunes, who negotiates on behalf of the States. As for her German counterpart Julia Klöckner, she believes that “farmers should not be buried in bureaucracy”.
Green MEP Martin Häusling denounces a “radicalization of the position” of ministers. But his French counterpart, Anne Sander, negotiator of the Parliament and member of the EPP group, seems to agree with the reluctant ministers, declaring: “Everyone must show responsibility, without economic sustainability (of farmers’ incomes), no environmental and climate sustainability . “
Finally, the States also refuse to make subsidies to farmers conditional on compliance with social standards.
Copa-Cogeca, a powerful federation of majority European agricultural unions, is alarmed by the turn of the debates. Its president, the French pig breeder Christiane Lambert, who also heads the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), believes that “with a continued decline in income and stiff international competition, farmers will have a hard time to implement these major environmental requirements. ”