Minister for Agriculture welcomes approach to controversial new CAP

21 October 2020

The Minister for Agriculture has welcomed the approach to the new Common Agricultural Policy deal, a proposal which a number of environmental organisations have called destructive and “deadly”.

Earlier this morning, the EU Agriculture Council came to an agreement on a general approach to the CAP post-2020 package following negotiations that started on Monday in Luxembourg. 

The deal is the “first step” in providing a stable framework for farmers to plan their business over the next few years. 

“It will support farm incomes while helping us build a sustainable agriculture sector contributing to the EU Green Deal,” Minister McConalogue said. 

However, the Minister did not elaborate on how the deal would build such sustainable practices for agriculture.

Ireland’s interests, according to the Minister, have also been “protected in the agreement”. 

Activists yesterday were calling on MEPs to vote in favour of Amendment 1147 which would have reverted the policy back to the Commission for reform. 

The rushed process of the policy, according to Birdlife Europe, “favours the approval of the deadly CAP deal without proper scrutiny”. 

The amendment was rejected by 503 votes to 166 last night. 

The new Common Agricultural Policy will cover the next seven years and the European Union previously said 40 per cent of its overall budget and at least 30 per cent of the Maritime Fisheries Fund will be geared towards climate action. 

“This CAP should be transformative, it’s not”

Speaking at the European Parliament yesterday, Irish Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan took issue with the policy and called for its reform. 

“Whoever decided to call this a CAP reform might like to check a dictionary. Reform would mean improving the current CAP and aligning the future CAP package with the European Green Deal.

This CAP Should be transformative, it’s not. This CAP is regressive,” Ms. O’Sullivan told the Parliament. 

Speaking to The Green News this morning, Stop Climate Chaos Policy co-ordinator Sadhbh O’Neill stressed that the proposed CAP would be “a disaster” for nature and the climate.

“It locks in more pollution and ecosystem degradation for another 7 years, and it is fundamentally incompatible with the commitments in the EU Green Deal which were supposed to chart a new approach to biodiversity and climate,” she said.

Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland and the Environmental Pillar stressed that the CAP is fuelled by tax payers’ money, but yet “MEPs and Agriculture Ministers have voted to weaken the environmental conditions and ambition which were attached to these funds”.

“This year the European Court of Auditors said that in previous years CAP has not delivered for biodiversity despite promises and it looks like this is set to continue.

This is absolutely unacceptable considering the strikes by young people across Europe calling for governments to address ecosystem collapse”, she told The Green News.

The European Environmental Bureau warned that the next CAP would remain a swamp of vested interests that are “stuck in the past” and will uphold financial incentives for intensive farming. 

The organisation also said that for the first time, the EU will hand almost the entire CAP budget to governments with “only vague rules and targets”. 

A significant amount of the €350 billion pot will go to Direct Payments, which according to the EEB will go to “the worst kind of destructive farming, with little environmental conditions”. 

Nearly half of Europe is farmland, the majority of which is used for intensive practices such as monoculture and the spread of toxic chemicals into soil and water. 

However, MEPs are yet to vote on the final deal. 

Climate activist Greta Thunberg took to Twitter this morning, saying “this can still be undone”. 

“If everyone does their job properly, this could still change,” she added. 

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Kayle Crosson