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Is it time for a greener Common Agricultural Policy?

On 23 November 2022, the European Parliament massively adopted the new reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with 452 votes in favour, 170 against and 76 abstentions. It will enter into force from January 2023 and provides for a budget of €50 billion per year until 2027. But once again, the real ambition of this CAP is being questioned.

As we know, agriculture is one of the sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, so it requires special attention in the ecological transition process. This new reform is in line with the Green Deal of Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. Its aim is to achieve a sustainable food system by 2030, with four goals :

– Reduce pesticide use and associated risks by 50%.

– Reduce the use of fertilizers by at least 20%.

– Decrease sales of antimicrobials in livestock and aquaculture by 50%.

– Reach 25% of agricultural land being organic.

To achieve these objectives, it was essential to “green“ the CAP because it remained in line with the very industrial world of the 20th century. Indeed, one of the key measures of this new CAP is the eco-regime. This means that 25% of aid will be dedicated to virtuous environmental practices, which will themselves be defined by each Member State.

But is this so-called “greener” CAP ambitious enough to achieve the objectives of the Green Deal?

Many farmers doubt this and even denounce greenwashing measures. Three-quarters of the budget will still be dedicated to conventional intensive agriculture. Professionals in the sector agree with moving towards more environmentally friendly agriculture, but what they denounce are the means put in place to achieve this. Unfortunately, this ecological transition tends to be at the expense of farmers’ standard of living. The reform plans to produce less in order to produce better, but the CAP aid doesn’t intend to make up the shortfall for producers. This is all the more concerning since many farmers are already unable to afford a decent income because the sale of their products is no longer enough for them to live. They therefore call for a plan for an ecological transition that is realistic from an economic and social point of view.

Romane Le Strat

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