EEB reaction: European Parliament Plenary vote on the CAP

Press Release

[Brussels] In a landmark vote on the Common Agricultural Policy the European Parliament (EP) Plenary has righted the worst wrongs of the agriculture committee but failed to ‘green’ the policy beyond its current environmentally poor state. In a “coup de theatre” the Plenary rejected proposals for a complex ‘equivalence mechanism’, with a view to ensuring that all farmers will have to comply with a basic set of standards to get part of their direct payments.

They however failed to adopt amendments that would have ensured those standards would be sufficient to reverse ongoing environmental degradation. An effective set of greening measures would have introduced 10% ecological focus areas, protection of permanent pastures and requirements for famers to undertake genuine crop rotation. Although the Plenary agreed with the EC’s principle of a package of 3 agronomic practices for greening the content of these has been watered down.

Although the majority of MEPs voted to reject ‘double funding’ in which farmers would be paid twice for the same work, the bar had been set so low by the Agriculture Committee (COMAGRI) that the Plenary vote looks positively progressive in comparison, but the fact is that the positive environmental impact may well be negligible.

Despite a last minute attempt by COMAGRI to block some of the amendments to be put to a vote, the Plenary did eventually manage to vote on everything after the chair conceded that it was undemocratic. In doing so they protected the democratic functioning of the process, even if not the sustainability of European countryside.

They reinstated the principle that farmers should respect EU law in order to receive their payments but reduced the list of laws to be complied with. As a result taxpayers will continue to subsidise farmers who abstract water illegally or harm wildlife.

Despite some small improvements, this result will still be disappointing for the thousands of citizens who called for the ‘greening’ of the CAP, including over 80 000 who signed the e-action over the last two weeks.

The best that can be said about today’s outcome is that it is not a step backwards.” said Faustine Defossez , Senior agriculture policy officerThis was an important day for the future of agriculture and for democracy but sadly the opportunity for a major shift to sustainable farming has been missed. Few will celebrate the scraps that the Parliament passed.


1. The EEB will be happy to provide members of the press with a detailed analysis of the results of the vote.
2. What’s next: The Council position will be discussed in Council 18-19 March and then the official position adopted March 25th for trialogues to begin in April

For any press queries please contact Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications Officer at on +32 (0) 2289 13 09 or +32 (0) 489 304 962
For content related issues, please contact Faustine Defossez, EEB agriculture and bioenergy policy officer on +32 4 87 244 270 (mobile)

For more info, please contact:


Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy

Tel: +32 (0) 2 790 88 14