EP Environment Committee pushes for more nature-friendly CAP

Posted on 14 February 2019

MEPs voted for measures to relieve agriculture’s pressure on nature and the environment in the future EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Brussels, 14 February 2019 - MEPs in the Parliament’s Environment Committee today voted for measures to relieve agriculture’s pressure on nature and the environment in the future EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). WWF welcomes the vote today as an important step to transform the CAP into a modern policy that must help the sector transition towards agroecological practices and environmental sustainability. Particularly remarkable is the agreement across all political groups to allocate at least 30% of direct payments to eco-schemes for climate and the environment.

“MEPs have today sent a strong signal to the other decision makers that nature cannot be ignored in the future CAP. While we would have hoped for an even stronger stance from the Environment Committee on certain environmental features of the future CAP, it has delivered a balanced report which will be difficult to contest by the more conservative Agriculture Committee,” said Jabier Ruiz, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Food at WWF-European Policy Office.

Making use of its enhanced role in the decision-making process on the CAP, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted through hundreds of amendments to establish their views on how the future CAP must address the environmental and climate challenges. These views are not just an opinion that can be disregarded easily: in this round of reform, the Agriculture and Environment Committees “share competence” on a substantial part of the main regulation of the CAP, where committees have equal weight.

WWF has long defended that environmental authorities and stakeholders should have a stronger say in designing the EU’s farming policy, given that food and farming are main drivers of multiple negative impacts on nature (from water pollution and scarcity to greenhouse gas emissions).

WWF particularly welcomed the following positive results of the vote:
  • The objectives of the CAP have been reformulated to include the lowering of the use of agrochemicals and to prevent subsidies going to unsustainable bioenergy.
  • At least 30% of direct payments (CAP first pillar) will have to be allocated to eco-schemes for climate and the environment, with a particular focus on biodiversity, high nature value and Natura 2000 farming.
  • The list of indicators to be used in the future CAP has been extended to better cover environmental concerns, and impact indicators are given more relevance to ensure a more ambitious policy.
On a less positive note, WWF regrets that the Environment Committee has not been able to reach an agreement on how to better measure climate-relevant expenditure under the CAP, nor on how to ensure and simplify the eligibility of biodiversity-rich pastures for CAP payments.

In March, the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the European Parliament is expected to vote on the regulations for the future CAP. This vote should integrate the views of the opinion-giving committees of the Parliament and, most notably, of its Environment Committee. The file could then be discussed in the latest Plenary session of this parliamentary term in mid-April, or be postponed until the new Parliament takes office.

Angelika Pullen
Communications Director
Wheat growing on the Dorset coast, UK.
© Global Warming Images / WWF