French MEPs: Council mostly to blame for failed CAP talks

"It already seems very surprising to me to put the green envelope at less than 30% of direct aid when we have just adopted the Green Deal," MEP and CAP co-rapporteur Eric Andrieu (S&D) told a press conference on Tuesday (1 June) EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET [Olivier Hoslet/epa]

French MEPs are blaming the EU’s agriculture ministers for the failure of “super-trilogue” talks to reach an agreement on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) last week, warning that it will now be difficult to break the deadlock. EURACTIV France reports.

“Negotiations on CAP reform have reached […] an impasse,” French MEP Jeremy Decerle (Renew Europe) said on Friday (28 May), as negotiations between the European Commission, European Parliament, and the Council representing the EU-27 ended up in bitter failure.

A deal on the CAP reform – which was originally proposed by the Commission in 2018 – will again have to be postponed until June and could go on for even longer.

While responsibility for this failure is “necessarily shared”, according to Decerle, many MEPs are blaming the Council in particular, which has long insisted on having 20% of the direct aid budget linked to agri-environmental commitments, compared to the 30% called for by Parliament.

The Council agreed on a compromise proposal of 25% suggested by the Portuguese EU Council presidency, demanding though a further ‘floor’ of 18% for the redistribution of unused direct aid within the framework of eco-regimes in time.

CAP talks crash on the 'floor' amid interinstitutional blame game

After four days of tense talks, a disagreement between EU lawmakers on a technical detail concerning the greening of direct payments to farmers paved the way for a breakdown in the interinstitutional negotiations on the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

No longer in line with EU ambition

“It already seems very surprising to me to put the green envelope at less than 30% of direct aid when we have just adopted the Green Deal,” MEP and CAP co-rapporteur Eric Andrieu (S&D) told a press conference on Tuesday (1 June). “But going from 30% greening to 18%, I don’t think that’s in line with our European ambition anymore.”

It will now be up to the 27 agriculture ministers to “measure up what’s at stake” – the fight against climate change, support for the agro-ecological transition, preservation of biodiversity, and the health of European citizens – and to remember the joint duty of Parliament and Council, the MEP added.

“Our obligation is not to play the game of who will be the strongest, but to work in the interest of the 12 million farmers in the European Union and its 400 million citizens”, said Andrieu.

For his part, Green MEP Benoît Biteau spoke of the Council’s “contempt” for the Parliament in the CAP negotiations.

“In terms of form, the Council has still not understood that Parliament is not just a contributor to a copy of the CAP, but a co-legislator,” he tweeted. In its current state, “the CAP misses the point” of climate and social issues, he said, calling the reform “a total failure”.

In the national strategic plans – through which the EU’s agriculture ministers must define the national priorities for the implementation of the future CAP – “each minister makes sad contortions to reduce as much as possible the measures for the climate or the environment”, said Biteau.

Also problematic, was the fact not enough emphasis was “placed on the development of organic farming”, which he said is “the only adequate response” to climate change.

French farmers split over agri-minister's 'status quo' approach to CAP reform

France is set to stick with the status quo when it comes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a stance widely welcomed by trade unionists but criticised by others for its lack of ambition on social and environmental matters. EURACTIV France reports.

‘Naked’ call for protest

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Organic Agriculture (FNAB) has called on farmers to demonstrate on Wednesday (2 June) and denounce the business as usual approach of Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie regarding the country’s CAP-based agriculture plan for 2023-2027.

According to the federation, organic farmers will lose on average 66% of their aid under the future CAP. By refusing to pay for the environmental services rendered by organic farming, the minister is “stripping organic farming naked,” the FNAB added.

This ‘call to arms’ has gone viral on Twitter in recent days, with many organic farmers posing naked to denounce the government’s “anti-environmental caricature of organic farming”.

Between the still pending agreement at the EU level and calls to review France’s own national CAP plan, what seemed to be the final stretch last week looks more than ever like an endless obstacle course.

[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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