EU Farm Ministers act as mouthpieces for farm unions at informal Council meeting in Dublin
(Tuesday May 28, Brussels, Belgium)
As EU Farm Ministers met this Monday and Tuesday at an informal Council in Dublin, the opportunity to discuss meaningful environmental reform of the EU’s Agriculture Policy was missed. Ministers instead decided on using this informal Council to reaffirm their support for practices that harm nature and do little for or struggling rural communities. The plan of Ministers seems to be to ram home a deal with the European Parliament and European Commission that merely delivers the short-sighted goals of farming unions.
Also in attendance at the informal Council were European Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Cioloş, and the European Parliament negotiating team led by Paolo De Castro. Mr De Castro has a firm mandate from his colleagues in the European Parliament to defend a robust package of three greening measures and to ensure a minimum budget allocation to environmental measures under the Rural Development. It however seems that the Parliament negotiating team is looking to give in quickly to Ministers and farm union demands as these negotiations take place away from the public eye.
Tony Long, Director of the European Policy Office: “Yet again Agriculture Ministers have proven to be unwilling negotiators, and completely uninterested in finding a compromise that delivers for the environment and society. Furthermore it seems that the Parliament negotiators are happy to play along in this. It is evident that even at this late stage powerful agricultural lobbies have managed to put their interests ahead of all the other stakeholders.”
“It looks like EU Farm Ministers are clearly hell bent on killing off the original greening proposals but also want to starve the Rural Development pillar of funding which provides finance to rural communities and sustainable farming. Instead they are trying to rig a system that will syphon off as much money to farmers directly with as few strings attached as possible.”
“One example is the double payments scandal. Under Council proposals farmers could receive two cheques for the same environmental activity, one from the Rural Development agri-environment measure and one from the Direct Payments system. This will result in billions of wasted taxpayers money and little additional environmental benefit.”
“Negotiators must ensure that all farmers undertake similar and ambitious greening practices to ensure a fair level playing field for farmers and the environment. Under the Rural Development Fund money must be secured for farmers willing to further green their businesses. So far the Council has only managed to weaken nearly every proposal.”
Philippe Carr, Communications and Media,
WWF European Policy Office
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