March 24th, 2016
A group of 100 environmental, health and social NGOs from across Europe have come together to call for a review of the E.U.’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Among them are three Irish NGOs: An Taisce, Coastwatch and the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN).
The purpose of the CAP is to support farmers and maintain stable market conditions for their produce via direct payments to farmers and the implementation of pricing supports, such as the milk quotas which controlled milk prices in the E.U. until they expired in March 2015. However, in an open letter to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the NGOs claimed that the CAP is in need of a review for reasons such as its unfairness for farmers, its failure to address the decline in the state of natural resources and its associated negative public health outcomes.
The campaign for a review of the CAP was launched to coincide with the ‘Forum for the Future of Agriculture’ (FFA) in Brussels, an event organised by Swiss seed and agro-chemical firm Syngenta, known for its controversial patenting of seeds. In an effort spearheaded by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a network of european environmental NGOs, the twitter hashtag for the event #FFA2016 was used by various organisations to draw attention to the need for a review of the CAP.
— WWF EU (@WWFEU) March 23, 2016
— Slow Food (@SlowFoodHQ) March 22, 2016
— BirdLife Europe (@BirdLifeEurope) March 22, 2016
Underlying the demand for a fitness check of the CAP is dissatisfaction with the unbalanced high level of scrutiny to which the E.U. nature laws have been assessed. While the Commission has in recent years carried out Fitness Checks on legislation pertaining to freshwater, waste, birds and habitats, CAP, which accounts for 40% of the EU budget has not yet been subjected to such assessment. Faustine Bas-Defossez, European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture and Bioenergy, said “It is time for Juncker to give Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan the mandate to open the debate on whether the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is fit-for-purpose. We need a food and farming policy that gives EU citizens access to healthy soils, water, air and, obviously, food.”Click here to read the statement from the European Environmental Bureau