May 23. 2024. 8:42

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EU countries seal relaxation of CAP green requirements until 2027 

The EU Council gave its final green light on Monday (13 May) to a relaxation of the environmental rules under the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will apply until the end of the current period in 2027 despite vocal protests from green NGOs.

Member states endorsed the last regulation of the so-called “simplification package” proposed by the European Commission on 15 March following a wave of protests by EU farmers across the bloc.

The text received broad support from country delegations, with only Germany abstaining.

“This targeted review of the common agricultural policy is a concrete result of our efforts to cut red tape,” David Clarinval, Belgian agriculture minister and current chair of the AGRIFISH Council, said in a press release on Monday.

The package – one regulation and one delegated act, the latter already endorsed by the Council and the European Parliament – includes changes to six of the nine Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs) standards upon which farming subsidies hinge, such as allowing for more derogations on requirements like mandatory soil cover, crop rotation, and fallow land rules.

Member states will have more flexibility to implement the policy and small farms will be exempt from compliance controls.

The changes will be in force until the end of the current CAP period in 2027, and farmers can apply some of them retroactively for the claim year 2024.

It will now be up to national administrations to determine how the measures will work in practice.

Not everyone on board

According to the press release, the “extremely short time” between the EU executive’s proposal and its formal adoption by the Council reflects the bloc’s commitment to addressing discontent in the agricultural sector.

While EU farmers’ association COPA and COGECA celebrated the swift adoption of the changes, environmental groups have repeatedly accused the EU institutions of disregarding democratic principles in the rush to approve the package.

“Today’s vote closes a rushed and poorly thought-out chapter in agricultural policy reform,” said Marilda Dhaskali of BirdLife Europe, adding that relaxing environmental rules was a “convenient scapegoat for the real challenges farmers face”.

In a letter published on Monday, 140 NGOs condemned what they called an “opportunistic” rollback of EU green policies to gain political support ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections in June.

“We are horrified that so many politicians across Europe are threatening the basis of life on this planet to provide false solutions to farmers’ hardships,” the letter said, adding that no action has been taken to address complaints of unfair trade practices and cheaper agricultural imports from non-EU countries.

Read more with Euractiv

NGOs unite against EU’s rollback of green policies for the agrifood sector

NGOs unite against EU’s rollback of green policies for the agrifood sector

Hundreds of civil society organisations decried the recent reversal of EU sustainability policies for the bloc’s agrifood sector in an open letter published on May 13.