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The new CAP - good news for farmers and the climate

Theme - Agriculture

Last Friday, the European Parliament and the European Council finally reached an agreement on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy after years of negotiations.

The provisional agreement is an important step towards a green transition in agriculture, a sector which emits a high amount of greenhouse gases. It also gives member states more flexibility in how they want to spend the funds they receive, whilst at the same time ensuring greater transparency about where Europeans’ money goes.

The budgetary share dedicated to environmental protection is significantly higher compared to the previous CAP, with 25% of the first pillar’s budget and 35% of the second pillar’s funds. A new addition, the so-called “eco-schemes”, will reward farmers who want to do more than the required minimum of environmental protection through additional aid.

Our German MEP Ulrike Müller (Freie Wähler), who was the rapporteur for the European Parliament on the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP (the "horizontal regulation") that sets a common framework for European farmers, was satisfied with the outcome: “This is good news for farmers and rural areas. [...] In future, 25% of direct payments will be used for ambitious environmental, climate and soil protection. Furthermore, a redistribution premium will provide greater support for small farms and enable green investments. […] Only now can the next CAP deliver on all the promises of higher environmental and social ambitions. With the eco-schemes, we have created a great, innovative instrument that provides financial support to farmers if they comply with environmentally and climate-friendly practices. They are a fundamental part of CAP reform to meet the requirements of the Green Deal and the Paris Agreement."

The issue of transparency has also received sufficient attention: under the new rules, national governments would have to draw up strategic plans - to be approved by the European Commission - setting out how they intend to implement the EU's objectives on the ground. The Commission would check their performance and compliance with EU rules.

The updated CAP will also devote special attention to young farmers and women running farms. Ulrike Müller said: “As a woman, it is particularly important to me that women are mentioned explicitly in the report. We now have more women farmers who are taking responsibility for farms and the definitions of active farmers, and the young farmers programme show that European agriculture policy wants to be balanced and also to ensure that new generations can farm as well.”

The Agriculture Committee (AGRI), the Parliament plenary, and the Council now have to approve the agreement. If voted, it will enter into force on the 1 January 2023 for four years.