French MPs divided over green transition in CAP compromise

The compromise reform contains "little that is mandatory" in terms of environmental protection and nature conservation. According to Lakner, many of the reform's scientific recommendations would still be possible if member countries had the corresponding political will. EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON [EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON]

As EU agriculture ministers reached an agreement on Wednesday (21 October) on the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), French MPs reacted differently to the CAP’s green transition. EURACTIV France reports.

EU ministers decided, after two tough days of negotiations in Luxembourg, to pour €387 billion into the EU’s agriculture policy over the next seven years.

The debate centred mostly on the green transition of the CAP. According to the agreement between the 27 EU member states, farmers will now have to comply with stricter environmental standards to obtain European financial aid. French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said in a tweet that this measure will apply to “all member states”, which was “a strong expectation of France”. The monitoring of small farms will also be simplified.

Moreover, EU farming ministers decided that each member state should devote 20% of the EU’s direct payments to so-called “eco-schemes”, a mechanism that would make it possible to remunerate farmers for the services they render to the environment, and enable them to engage in agro-ecological practices. This is less than the 30% the European Commission wanted to allocate to the budget of the CAP’s first pillar.

‘A better homogenisation of environmental standards’

This “crucial agreement”, in the words of German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, has elicited various reactions from French MPs.

Jean-Baptiste Moreau, LREM MP from the Creuse and former rapporteur for agriculture and food issues, praised the agreement for how it addressed environmental issues.

“With regard to all plant protection products, there have been agreements in principle to try to move together towards greater harmonisation in their use at European level. […] This agreement is a first step towards a better homogenisation of environmental standards at European level,” said Moreau.

Despite the drop in funds allocated to “eco-schemes”, the LREM MP remains optimistic: “When we know that Eastern European countries wanted much less than that, 20% [of the CAP budget] is already not so bad,” he added.

This enthusiasm is not shared by Green MEP and organic farmer Benoit Biteau, who, after having co-authored a opinion piece in French newspaper Libération for a “new agricultural model that is more respectful of farmers and the environment”, expressed regret on Twitter that these eco-schemes, which are compulsory for member states, are not also compulsory for farmers.

“To reach a 60% reduction of CO2, to slow down the erosion of biodiversity, we should have gone much further,” he added.

While the debates on the CAP continued in the European Parliament, Manuel Bompard, MEP and leader of radical left party La France Insoumise (LFI) in the European Parliament, was just as critical of the new CAP texts on Wednesday (20 October).

Recalling that the Common Agricultural Policy represents nearly 30% of the EU budget, he criticised the “lack of ambition” of the “European Commission, the Council of the EU and the negotiators of the major groups in this Parliament”.

Bompard called for the rejection of the amendments on the CAP, which are the result of a compromise between the three major parties in the European Parliament, the conservative EPP, the liberal Renew and the social democrats (S&D). The French MEP also described the voting procedure in the Parliament as a “democratic scandal”.

“No one outside the Parliament will have time to examine [the voting lists] or send their recommendations. No citizen will be able to take hold of this crucial vote,” he said.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]


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