France hoping for a greener future CAP

Agribusiness and agroecology are two opposing models. [Susanne Nilsson/Flickr]

This article is part of our special report CAP: New delivery model, climate and spending.

Paris wants to place the emphasis on greening measures in the future Common Agricultural Policy. This is in order to support the transition to agroecology. EURACTIV France reports.

The future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will have to do everything it can to support the transition to agroecology, which groups the farming practices which connect agronomy (the science of agriculture) to ecology.

“The PAC has a role to play with greening. It will have to support the transition to agroecology, which is an irreversible one. This is part of France’s strong commitments,” explained the French Minister of Agriculture and Food Didier Guillaume at the annual conference of the Dephy network, which supports farmers in reducing their use of phytosanitary products.

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Having undergone a transition to intensive production in the aftermath of the Second World War in order to feed the country, the French farming community now has to develop its production practices towards agroecology, with the support of Europe.

In order to undergo this transition, it is imperative that the CAP budget is maintained. “France, together 19 European partners, says no to the reduction in the CAP budget because it isn’t acceptable,” stated Guillaume.

However, the ambition of making the post-2020 CAP a tool for the transition towards agroecology is far from a reality in the plan put on the table by the European Commission.

Moreover, in a judgement, the European Court of Auditors concluded that CAP plan “does not meet the stated ambitions of the Union concerning the adoption of a more ecological and more solid approach based on performance.”

EU auditors insist the new CAP is unclear on climate goals measurement

The complementarity of the EU’s post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy with climate change goals remains a big challenge because the objectives are vaguely defined and short on measurable details, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) told EURACTIV.com.

Indeed, the future CAP plan only directs a small part of the subsidies towards environmental objectives. Only 30% of the support from the second pillar of the CAP shall be used for environmental and climate protection.

Greening will mainly be subject to the goodwill of the member states, who will be able to transfer an additional 15% between the two pillars in order to cover spending to support the environment and the climate.

Mismatch

“When the Court of Auditors says that the plan does not meet the ecological ambitions, this is fair,” explained socialist MEP Eric Andrieu. “The Commission points to environmental objectives, saying that they have priority but you realise that they are not clearly specified,” he regretted.

“I do not see how we will be able to assess objectives which are not specific,” Andrieu continued. “We need agriculture which captures carbon, which manages the water resources and rejects nitrogen. And, currently, the new CAP doesn’t do this.”

In order to move the CAP towards the agro-ecological transition, Paris will argue for a minimum spending objective to support the environment within the two pillars of the agricultural policy.

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