Commission bows to pressure to water down Green Deal ambitions in CAP plans

A number of member states have lodged complaints about the demand for tying Common Agricultural Policy strategic plans to the European Green Deal, saying that this goes beyond the basic legislation. [EPA-EFE/KUPLJENIK]

The European Commission’s ambition to tie the EU’s farming subsidies programme to the European Green Deal is set to fall victim to pressure from member states in a behind-closed-doors procedure.

The secondary legislation for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is currently under development, as part of which the Commission is preparing an implementing act on the content of the strategic plans.

Through these plans, EU countries will set out how they intend to meet the nine EU-wide objectives of the CAP reform while at the same time responding to the needs of their farmers and rural communities.

Draft plans are to be submitted to the European Commission for approval by the end of the year.

This implementing act was expected to include the obligation for member states to specify how their strategic plans will contribute to the EU’s Green Deal.

However, a number of member states have lodged complaints about the demand, saying that this goes beyond the basic legislation, an EU source familiar with the proceedings told EURACTIV.

Pointing out that member states hold sway on whether the implementing act passes, the source explained that this opposition indicates that the Commission “does not believe that this implementing act will pass comitology without being massively watered down or scrapped altogether.”

The word ‘comitology’ indicates the maze of internal committees tasked with assisting the Commission in drafting implementing measures on technical aspects of EU legislation, such as delegated acts and secondary legislation.

Member states participate in these special committees to oversee the work of the Commission, having a big say on final decisions, which are always reached behind closed doors.

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“It won’t pass like this”

The source confirmed that member states in the special committees are opposed to the Green Deal being mentioned in the act, “so, it won’t pass under review like this”.

As such, the Commission is currently in the process of reviewing how it is going to refer to the Green Deal in its implementing act, with two options under consideration: watering down the ambitions or doing away with the reference completely.

“The Green Deal is likely to disappear or be watered down throughout the comitology procedure. But either way, it will change,” the source confirmed, adding that the Commission is taking the concerns of member states very seriously.

The source told EURACTIV that member states have not seen the latest draft of the act yet, but that it will likely be made available to them in the third week of November for a last look and any comments before finalisation.

Another EU source told EURACTIV that given the strong protests from member states, the EU executive is very likely to “prepare an appropriate piece of secondary legislation, which will reflect the political agreement and will not go beyond the basic legal acts that will be adopted.”

Time is of the essence for member states to wrap up their strategic plans by the end of year deadline. Because of that, the source said, basic legislation must be approved by 2 December.

The last formal passage to get the basic legislation through is the final European Parliament vote, scheduled for the next plenary in Strasbourg on 22-25 November

“The Commission wants to push everything through within the timetable to have the implementing act by the end of the year in time for member states to complete their strategic plans,” the second source concluded.

Commissioner: Rejecting CAP plans on basis of Green Deal alignment 'unimaginable'

The EU’s Agriculture Commissioner has said he does not foresee a situation where a member state’s Common Agricultural Policy national plan would be rejected for failing to align with the Green Deal, banking instead on the power of persuasion.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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