2022: CAP, Farm to Fork and other gifts that keep on giving

From the adoption of the national strategic plans to the review of the sustainable use of pesticides directive, there's still some fun in store for 2022.

This article is part of our special report What to expect in EU policymaking in 2022.

After an action-packed 2021 that kept the agrifood sector busy with the last crumbles of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, there are still some crucial dossiers in store for 2022, from the adoption of the national strategic plans to the review of the sustainable use of pesticides directive.

Yes, the CAP was wrapped in 2021 – but that doesn’t mean there’s not more CAP drama to come.

Eyes are shifting now from Brussels to the individual member states as they present their national strategic plans setting out how they intend to meet the nine EU-wide objectives of the CAP. These national plans are the main vehicle of change; that is, the main ways in which the objectives of the Green Deal will be achieved.

Member states had until the end of 2021 to submit their plans to the Commission for approval. However, a third of the 27 EU countries – including Germany and Belgium – have missed the formal deadline.

Speaking at a recent event, DG AGRI’s Deputy Director-General Tassos Haniotis said this process should hopefully not take longer than three months, with the Commission’s verdict coming in April, but gave a hard deadline of the end of summer for its feedback, depending on the quality of the submitted plans. 

For the latest on how these plans progress, be sure to follow EURACTIV’s CAP tracker.

CAP Tracker – Next steps for the national strategic plans

Welcome to EURACTIV’s CAP tracker, your one-stop shop for all the latest developments on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Be sure to check back here regularly for updates on the next steps for the CAP and how member states are progressing …

Pesticides: high on the agenda

A key focus of the coming year will be the overhaul of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD), adopted in 2009.

The SUD aims to reduce the risks and the impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment. However, it has come under fire for the poor implementation in the majority of member states.

As outlined in the Commission’s flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy, the Commission aims to revise the directive to bring it in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, in order to meet the target of slashing the use and risk of chemical pesticides in half.

The adoption of the revision is earmarked for March 2022.

Another sensitive file when it comes to plant protection products is the renewal process for glyphosate, launched in late 2019. The current approval is set to expire in December 2022.

The renewal remains highly controversial as views diverge over glyphosate’s impact on health and the environment.

Both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) are now considering the renewal of their approval, with their assessment groups soon set to give their view on the health risks of glyphosate.

An opinion on the classification of glyphosate to be developed by ECHA will “be used by EFSA and representatives of EU member state competent authorities to finalise the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment,” a spokesperson from EFSA told EURACTIV.

This is expected to happen during the second half of 2022, they confirmed.

Glyphosate approval: stakeholders squabble over who has the science right

As the EU considers renewing its approval for the controversial herbicide glyphosate, the industry is defending the assessment procedure while environmental campaigners have denounced it for not being based on “sound science”.

Carbon certification and gene editing

The proposal of a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removal will also be a key priority of 2022, delivering on promises made in the recently published Fit for 55 package.

The legislative proposals included in the package are intended to scale up the removal of carbon from the atmosphere through both nature-based and technological solutions.

Given that the Commission has earmarked a new carbon removal approach in agriculture to help raise Europe’s climate ambition, this could have wide-ranging effects in the agricultural world.

The adoption of this regulatory framework is earmarked for the third quarter of 2022.

The debate over the contentious issue of gene-editing will continue to heat up throughout the year as the Commission works towards its proposal of a legal framework on the issue.

Gene editing in EU agriculture has taken centre stage since the 2018 European Court of Justice ruled that organisms obtained by mutagenesis plant breeding techniques are GMOs and should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive.

The European Commission is currently reviewing the EU’s rules on technology after the publication of a recent study on new genomic techniques, which concluded that the EU’s current legal framework on GMOs is insufficient, but there are signs that the EU executive is increasingly in favour of the technology.

Public consultation on the matter will be launched in the second quarter of 2022, followed by the adoption of the Commission’s proposal planned for the second quarter of 2023. 

Timmermans: Gene editing 'clear part' of sustainability action in agrifood

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans added his voice to the growing list of those in the EU executive advocating for gene editing, a move condemned by campaigners who accuse the Commission of already making their mind up on the technology.

Promotional policy and geographical indications

The EU’s promotion policy for agri-food products, established in a 2014 regulation, consists of campaigns aiming at enhancing the competitiveness of the EU agricultural sector both in the single market and third countries.

The promotion of agri-food products and quality schemes eligible for support is funded by the Commission through annual work programmes adopted after consultation with stakeholders.

This promotional policy is currently under review and the public consultation phase with stakeholders was launched at the beginning of 2021.

The Commission was originally expected to come up with a proposal for overhauling the current scheme in the fourth quarter of 2021, but this has now been pushed back to 2022.

Likewise, a revision of the geographical indications (GIs) policy is also expected, in a bid to boost their potential and contribute to the EU’s new food policy.

Although originally envisaged for the end of 2021, the revision is planned to be published in the first quarter of 2022.

There is increasing speculation in Brussels that sees more ground for an involvement of the EU’s intellectual property office (EUIPO) in dealing with GIs, with the Commission’s DG AGRI outsourcing some of its competencies on the matter.

Brexit rears its ugly head once again

Life is about to get much harder for UK-EU agri-trade as of 1 January, when agricultural traders will be hit with the full force of Brexit rules and regulations.

The UK’s revenue and customs department (HMRC) will require all goods to be pre-advised from 1 January 2022. In layman’s terms, this means a whole heap of extra paperwork for agri-food companies.

Some sectors, such as the wine sector, have already been subject to these extra requirements for months, and have issued warnings about what is to come.

“I simply don’t see how such a steep learning curve for both suppliers and importers will go well, the wine industry as you will see from retailers shelves is barely coping after 12 months of Brexit. Gaps are plentiful,” Daniel Lamberts, owner of a wine importation company, warned on Twitter.

He pointed out that delays are one thing for non-perishable wine, but carry very different consequences for fresh produce.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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