The European Parliament has approved a comprehensive package for the new common European agricultural policy by a large majority. This largest funding pool in the European Union is more than EUR 350 billion for the next seven years.
Earlier this week, EU Member States reached an agreement on ‘a new type of agriculture‘: less money for farmers, changing rules, and it needs to be greener. Minister Schouten called this ‘a very good step’.
The European Commission has set overarching goals for the whole of Europe in its Green Deal. Commissioner Frans Timmermans wants less CO2 emissions, more biodiversity and more forests. Agriculture plays a crucial role in this as a sector.
Left parties consider the current agricultural policy no longer appropriate to these objectives, but other parties such as the Christian Democrats do not see strict demands on farmers.
One of the most important results of today‘s vote is that European farmers are encouraged to green-green. There will be so-called ‘eco-schemes‘, greening subsidies to which farmers can subscribe. From the budget for the old income support, money will be deducted to finance the new schemes: about 30% of these will be earmarked for eco-schemes in the future.
The Christian Democrats call the outcome ‘a very good middle way‘. They say that the renewed policy will make more happen to the environment and at the same time keep farmers on their feet.
The Greens and the Dutch Social Democrats are not satisfied and call the conditions for, for example, the eco-schemes ‘butter-soft‘.
MEP Bas Eickhout (GroenLinks) is very concerned: “We are in a climate and biodiversity crisis. Nevertheless, the European Parliament and European ministers want to leave the disastrous agricultural policy at the same time. In the agricultural field, the Green Deal is in doubt.”
Step in the right direction
For Dutch farmers, the new common agricultural policy means reducing the overall budget for agriculture. This had already been decided by the Heads of Government.
Dutch farmers will return more than farmers in Eastern Europe, for example. They are currently receiving more funding than their Eastern European colleagues. That difference should gradually disappear in the coming years, which means that Dutch farmers will receive almost 10% less subsidy per hectare of land. Many farmers in the Netherlands do not think it right to be imposed on them at the same time on greening requirements.
Léon Faassen, member of the board of the agricultural organisation LTO Nederland calls the agreement of the European Parliament “ambitious” in a response. “We see it as a step in the right direction, where farmers and gardeners are rightly rewarded for the actions they take. It is good that there is now a realistic deal in place, whereby the Green Deal with its high objectives is not funded with farmers’ money.”
Tons of subsidy
The European Parliament also agrees to a maximum per farmer for agricultural subsidies. Large farmers, particularly in eastern Europe, are currently making a great deal of money from the Agricultural Fund: some have received tons of European aid.
To put an end to this, there will be a ceiling of 100,000 euros. An exception is made for countries that pay 12% of the total budget in subsidies to small farmers: in this case, large farmers in the same country may exceptionally receive up to EUR 500,000 in subsidy.
Now that the European Parliament has given its assent and the Agriculture Ministers reached an agreement earlier, these parties are entering into negotiations with a view to reaching a final agreement.
That will take at least another year and the outcome will then have to be voted again. The new policy will therefore be introduced by 2023 at the earliest.