European parliament agrees to ‘greener’ agriculture

The European Parliament in Strasbourg has agreed by a large majority to reform the agricultural policy. It should lead to the European Union‘s policy becoming greener, fairer, more flexible and open. It is intended for small farmers to receive more support and that biodiversity in agriculture will increase.

MEPs from GroenLinks and Party for the Animals voted against, together with a few dozen green and left-wing supporters. They think the plans don’t go far enough. Other parties, including the SGP, believe that the new rules go too far. That makes the proposed policy a compromise.

Keys

Agricultural policy, which accounts for a third of the EU budget, has been discussed for three years. In order for the plans to succeed, all EU Member States must draw up a strategic agricultural plan. The European Commission will check whether each plan meets the standards.

For example, countries must ensure that predetermined percentages of the available subsidies are spent on climate and environmental measures. European income support for farmers will be at least 20% and later 25% dependent on how sustainably the farmers work. GroenLinks and the Party for the Animals would have liked to have had those percentages considerably higher and now call them little ambitious.

More insight

It also needs to be more insight into who receives which subsidies and how they are handled. That must prevent fumbling with funds. Inspectors in the Member States will work closer together to ensure that agreements are complied with. To prevent loss of plant and animal species, farmers need to leave fragments of land fallow more often.

The European Parliament has further enforced that at least 10% of the available budget goes to small and medium-sized farms and at least 3% is destined for young farmers. As a result, smaller farmers will soon be able to count on a larger share of the subsidies.

There will also be a permanent crisis budget of 450 million euros to help farmers when prices or markets become unstable.