Renew Europe has been at the forefront of efforts to broker a compromise between parliamentary groups on modernising and increasing the environmental ambition of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This week, three important reports are voted on, encompassing strategic management plans, the Common Market regulation, and financing, management and monitoring of the CAP. They are crucial to ensure that the EU's high agricultural standards and economic potential are in line with environmental, biodiversity and social needs.
The main principles outlined in the Renew Europe vision paper for a Prosperous & Green Farm Deal are reflected in the package reached with the EPP and S&D.
To highlight the key elements:
First, measures are proposed to speed up the environmental transformation of European agriculture:
- Transforming: Eco-schemes will help invest approximately €100 billion by 2027 to enhance the sustainability of EU farms, allowing farmers to turn their businesses into carbon efficient, low input and high-biodiversity food systems. Governments should dedicate at least 30% of the direct payments to these schemes.
- Investing: Our proposal on smart and green investments will allow farmers to innovate and invest in climate-proof technologies by mobilising at least 30% of the rural development budget towards investments.
- Supporting: Europe should stand by its farmers to help them gain access to the best knowledge and innovation. We propose to step up knowledge transfer and advisory services to help them cope with economic and environmental challenges.
Second, updated support programmes will help get the most out of our agricultural sector's economic and social potential:
- Generation renewal: The reform of the CAP targets issues that allows younger generations to invest in agriculture infrastructure and encourages rural start-ups and increased cooperation.
- Boosting the rural economy: 30% of rural development programmes is dedicated to investments in knowledge and innovation, and risk-management tools.
- Smart regulation: CAP management gives flexibility to national or regional governments to design tools within a clear and common EU-framework. This will avoid distorting competition, while at the same time allowing the CAP to achieve greater results with less administrative burden on farmers.
In all, the CAP deal has been a massive undertaking, and Renew Europe welcomes the ambitious and strong position this should give the Parliament ahead of negotiations with the Commission and Council:
MEP Ulrike Müller (Freie Wähler, DE), rapporteur on the CAP financing, management and monitoring regulation and Renew Europe Agriculture Coordinator, explains: 'For the new CAP, Renew Europe expresses a clear commitment to the new Delivery Model and the Green Deal. In this respect, our group supports the move from a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all-approach to a more targeted, responsive and result-oriented approach, which fulfils the economic and social aims and objectives of the CAP, delivers on public goods, while meeting Europe's higher environmental and climate ambition. This is one of the cornerstones of CAP reform and is also reflected in the Horizontal Regulation.'
MEP Martin Hlaváček (ANO2011, CZ), adds: 'The CAP concept as we see it is based on three main pillars: Enhanced eco-schemes in the first pillar to match CAP's climate ambition, Smart Green Investments in the second pillar to unleash genuine green investment potential, and Human Capital Investments into knowledge and skills necessary to speed up the transformation towards genuine and viable green rural economies. We are glad to see that other political groups match our level of ambition and appreciated the consistency of our proposals. Therefore we can see the vast majority of our flagship ideas in the final compromise reached.'
Jan Huitema (VVD, NL), shadow rapporteur: 'We need a CAP that incentivises farmers instead of demotivating them with bureaucratic rules that have no economic or environmental impact. Renew Europe wants to stimulate farmers in their transition towards a modern and green economy and reward them for achievements in the areas of environment, climate and animal welfare. By putting targeted eco-schemes and programmes as well as investments at the centre of this reform, we can take a step towards a more sustainable and competitive European agricultural sector.'
Jérémie Decerle (Liste Renaissance, FR), shadow rapporteur, concludes: 'Of course we could choose, as some do, the easy way out by criticising the compromise found. I challenge anyone to do better, while taking into account the disparities of agricultural models in 27 countries and those of even more political parties. I believe that the ambitious proposals put forward by our assembly will be a solid basis for negotiations with the Council and the Commission. And it is thanks to our group that tomorrow the Parliament will have the most advanced position on eco-schemes. It is also thanks to our group that innovative ideas for the renewal of generations in agriculture have finally been put on the table, notably the increase in funding granted to young farmers, but also the idea of paying part of the support per active farmer, rather than per hectare, so that we can give a little more value and priority to women and men in agriculture!'