Cyprus concludes its work on CAP by digging grave for greening
[Brussels, 19 December] Earlier today the Cyprus Presidency presented its “progress report” on the much debated Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reform. This is another step on the long road towards a final position in the EU Agriculture Council, which is needed before negotiations with the European Parliament can start. However, environmental NGOs BirdLife Europe, the European Environmental Bureau and WWF consider it to be not so much a progress report as a ‘regress report’, as it is attempting to scale back reform ambitions and undermines the original idea of making this CAP greener, fairer and more simple.
“After six months of discussions, negotiations and meetings, Cyprus concludes its Presidency with a CAP ‘reform’ that if approved, risks making the new policy more environmentally damaging than the current one” says Faustine Defossez, agriculture policy officer in EEB. “The new ‘green by definition’ proposals would label non-environmentally friendly farming methods as ‘green’ while creating a bureaucratic nightmare for farmers and Member States alike.”
“Member States are trying hard to water down the Commission’s proposals, while in times of austerity, we should try to get more not less delivery from public investments” adds Trees Robijns, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe. “The greenwashing that Member States are calling for will not be accepted by the public as a justification for direct payments.”
“On top of the threat of disproportionate budget cuts to the forward looking Rural Development Policy, Agriculture Ministers are looking to further raid this fund to create a costly income stabilization tool, at the expense of environmental measures.” concludes Sebastien Godinot, Economist, WWF European Policy Office. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the whole of the CAP if Member States are even scaling back on current delivery. As it stands, the Council proposals show taxpayers little value for money.”
Greening the CAP is not a luxury but a necessity. If we are to solve the urgent environmental problems that the EU faces, give a future to European farming and bring much needed legitimacy back to this policy, a serious shift in the negotiations under the Irish Presidency is desperately needed. Environmental NGOs ask for real progress in delivering a reform that works for the environment, farmers and politicians.
 BirdLife Europe - Visit http://europe.birdlife.org
BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. The BirdLife Partnership operates in 117 countries and territories worldwide. BirdLife Europe supports the European and Central Asian Partnership for BirdLife International and is present in 45 countries and all EU Member States.
 The European Environmental Bureau - Visit www.eeb.org
Created in 1974, the EEB is now Europe's largest federation of environmental organisations with more than 140 member organisations who gain their membership from the general public. Because of this, we are guided by the voices of 15 million European citizens, and act as the ears and voice of our members towards the EU decision makers.
 WWF - Visit www.wwf.eu
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
 Examples of how the Council is trying to scale back the reform:
Examples of the efforts to prevent a greening of the CAP lie firstly in the attempt to exempt major sections of the farming sector from Pillar 1 (Direct Payments) greening requirements with little environmental justification: farms enrolled in any kind of certification or agri-environment scheme, grassland farms, farms with crops submerged under water, farms with permanent crops, small and medium farms (15 hectares…) , etc.
A second set of examples can be found on the implementation of the greening measures:
1. Various crops could be exempt or considered as Ecological Focus Areas, replacing valuable habitat with crops that have no proven environmental delivery.
2. For permanent pasture, nothing has been done to ensure our most valuable grasslands are protected and those who look after them rewarded. The improvements of the Commission are scaled back to current levels or potentially the protection could become even weaker.
3. On crop diversification a long series of exemptions has been introduced to further water down an already weak measure.
For cross compliance, Member States are looking to remove elementary water and pesticide legislation from the list of basic rules farmers receiving subsidies need to comply with.
Things look just as bleak in the CAP’s Rural Development policy (Pillar 2), an area which, despite representing real value for public money, is increasingly under threat within the parallel EU Budget negotiations. Member States have shown little interest in maintaining the current minimum spending requirement for the environment, even though it represents one of the few environmental safety nets in the CAP. Together with the costly introduction of a multi-billion Income Stabilization Tool, much of the environmental performance and benefit for rural communities could be lost.
Trees Robijns, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer
Tel: +32 478 88 73 02; email@example.com
WWF European Policy Office,
Philippe Carr, Media & Communications,
Tel: +32 476 25 68 79 ; firstname.lastname@example.org
European Environmental Bureau
Faustine Defossez, EEB agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer
Tel: +32 2 289