Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to veto EU farm subsidy bill

David Sassoli, European Parliament President, met with Greta Thunberg in March [Daina Le Lardic]

The eyes of future generations are on you, Greta Thunberg told MEPs, as pressure mounts on the European Parliament to vote down the EU’s massive farm subsidy bill.

Environmental activists argue it falls short of commitments to fight climate change.

“This is your chance to turn empty words into action,” Greta Thunberg, told MEPs.

Climate activists and NGOs have spoken out about MEPs voting to remove environmental protections from the reformed Common Agricultural Policy.

The European Commission, too, seem unconvinced that the bill goes far enough to protect nature.

“[CAP] shows that politicians are not necessarily convinced that they can win elections on such a platform of systemic transformation,” said Kurt Vandenberghe, European Green Deal Advisor to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke today at a talk run by EURACTIV.

#votethisCAPdown has been circulating on social media with biodiversity activists also worried about the policy’s impact on nature.

The votes on CAP come in the same week as the EU’s State of Nature report was published, showing species are in dramatic decline across the EU.

It highlighted agricultural practices are a key problem for biodiversity and that 50% of pollution pressure on biodiversity came from agriculture.

This week has shown the conflict in Europe between the Commission and NGOs who were pushing for further regulations to rein in the environmental damage cause by intensive farming practices and the Council and Parliament who dug their heels in on dramatic reform.

EU subsidies to farmers are massive, compromising roughly one third all of all bloc spending for member states. In the budget proposal for 2021 to 2027 currently under discussion, €387 billion is earmarked for this.

These subsidies are fiercely defended by farming states, most notably France, Ireland and eastern European nations, where farmers have a strong political influence.

Activists are furious that only 20% of the planned spending will be devoted to climate friendly policies.

Thunberg has also taken shots at the media for putting undeserved attention on a minor aspect of the package – a proposed ban on using the term “veggie burger” for non-meat products.

The amendment, pushed by cattle and dairy farmers, was rejected by MEPs on Friday, although a ban on using “yoghurt style” and “cheese substitute” tags on plant-based goods survived.

MEPs are to vote on Friday on their position for upcoming talks with member state governments, which agreed on their position earlier this week.

EU farming subsidies programme is two steps closer to long-awaited reform

EU farm ministers clinched an early-morning deal on the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), touted as ‘a paradigm shift in European food policy’, on Wednesday (21 October). At the same time, the European Parliament’s first voting session on the same matter saw a compromise between three biggest political groups.

(Edited by Frédéric Simon)

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