EU parliament committee approves farm subsidy reforms

The deal signals a substantial shift to funding greening projects

EU parliament committee approves farm subsidy reforms

The European Parliament’s agriculture committee has approved a deal to overhaul the European Union’s huge farming subsidies, including new measures aimed at making agriculture greener.

The committee approved three pieces of legislation, which from 2023 will govern spending from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) — a scheme that will spend 387 billion euros from the EU’s 2021-27 budget on payments to farmers and rural development.

The rules are the result of a three-year battle between EU countries and lawmakers over how to make the policy greener, which ended when negotiators agreed to a deal on reforms in June.

The committee approved the rules with a comfortable majority, but Green lawmakers rejected the proposals saying they failed to align agriculture with EU climate change targets.

The full EU parliament will vote on the rules later this year. Member states’ ministers must then formally approve them.

The EU is overhauling its policies across all sectors to cut greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.

Agriculture produces around 10 per cent of EU emissions, and the new farming policy will attempt to shift subsidies from environmentally damaging intensive farming practices to protecting nature.

Farmers’ payments will be tied to complying with environmental rules, while countries will be obliged to spend 20 per cent of payments to farmers from 2023-24, and 25 per cent between 2025-27, on “eco-schemes” that protect the environment.

That could include restoring wetlands to absorb CO2, although the rules do not define what counts as an eco-scheme.

Campaigners and some EU lawmakers have said the environmental rules are weak or voluntary, and lack a firm target to cut emissions. They are calling for lawmakers in EU parliament to reject the rules.

The rules also aim to halt the decline of Europe’s small farms, introducing requirements for countries to redistribute subsidies to smaller businesses — an attempt to stop large businesses sucking up money.

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