The European Parliament wants a vote on the new CAP in January 2020
After the summer break, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Agriculture (AGRI) and Environment (ENVI) Committees got back to work. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be very high on the agenda of the European Parliament, and its members recently decided to have a vote in plenary between late 2019 and early 2020.
Back in June 2018, the Commission released its legislative proposal consisting of three reports: the Common Organisation of the Markets (CMO), the Horizontal Regulation and the regulation establishing rules on support for strategic plans to be drawn up by the Member States. This proposal is now again under scrutiny of the Agriculture and Environmental Committees of the European Parliament. These committees share competences over the CAP reform dossier and need to come to an agreement before the vote in the entire European Parliament . After the vote in the Parliament’s plenary, the CAP legislative proposals will be discussed in trilogues. The Commission’s proposal foresees the implementation of the reform in the beginning of 2021, but this is likely to be postponed given the complexity of the negotiations.
The environmental ambition of the previous Committees’ amendments: ENVI passes, AGRI fails
After analysing the proposal, MEPs submitted more than 5,000 amendments – only for the Strategic Plans report. From January to the end of March, they were the subject of intense discussions between the seven political groups. Among the compromise amendments was IFOAM EU’s request to Member States to include an analysis of the organic sector’s production, expected demand and needs in their CAP strategic plans. Most of the members of the ENVI Committee voted in favour of this amendment. However, the AGRI Committee, that holds the main competence on the CAP file, did not vote in favour of this. Overall, the text voted by the ENVI Committee was much more ambitious when it comes to meeting environmental challenges and meeting the needs of the organic sector than the final compromise text voted by the AGRI Committee.
The votes in the Committee for Agriculture took place in April 2019, only a few weeks before the European elections. Some positive elements of the AGRI Committee’s vote included the rejection of the Commission’s cuts in both Pillar 1 and 2, the ringfencing of 20% of direct payments for Eco-Schemes and limiting of the flexibility to transfer money from Pillar 2 to Pillar 1. Nevertheless, the previous AGRI Committee did not question the direct payments model and their intention to attribute minimum 60% of Pillar 1 to these payments shows that the ‘business-as-usual’ approach prevails. Moreover, by deleting the obligations related to Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) and limiting the protection of wetlands and peatlands to Natura 2000 areas, MEPs from the Agriculture Committee put conditionality in great danger.
It’s up to the new ENVI & AGRI Committees to make sure that the next CAP delivers public money for public goods
After May’s elections, the composition of the European Parliament has changed. New MEPs should have their say on the reform process before the vote in plenary, expected in the beginning of 2020. While rapporteurs are not changing for the CMO report (Eric Andrieu, S&D) and the Horizontal Regulation (Ulrike Müller, Renew Europe), the German lawmaker Peter Jahr has been named as the new rapporteur for the key strategic plans portfolio. Concerning this last report, which is the most controversial one, new compromise amendments will be added to the original ones. The AGRI and ENVI committees may work closer together this time to have a comprehensive approach and a common position before the negotiations with the Commission and the Council. This reopening of the negotiations before the plenary offers a good moment for the European organic movement to present its vision to the newly elected Parliament.
The organic movement’s efforts on the CAP reform
While work at the European political level continues, IFOAM EU will continue to provide its expertise to MEPs and experts of the European Commission based on our position ‘Towards a post-2020 CAP that supports farmers and delivers public goods to Europeans’. We will also continue working with our national members and European partners to help governments in implementing new instruments. Are you working on implementing these new instruments? Read the Institute for Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)’s report on CAP 2021-2017: Using the eco-scheme to maximise environmental and climate benefits.