Parliament Agriculture Committee Caves in to Farm Lobby Greed
[Brussels 23 January 2013] After months of deliberation the Agriculture committee of the European Parliament has finally voted on CAP reform proposals. Rather than fixing a broken subsidy system they have instead proposed to add extra layers of bureaucracy and increase complexity, which would do nothing to improve the environmental performance of European farms. The Committee even voted to reduce the environmental potential of the CAP pillar 2. Their vote did support 25% minimum spending on the environment, but that is simply a preservation of the status quo.
The CAP continues to suffer from a fundamental lack of legitimacy and the latest vote in the European Parliament to pay farmers twice for the same work shows that for some MEPs this reform is not about restoring legitimacy but to continue a ‘money for free’ approach.
Faustine Defossez, Agriculture Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau, said of the vote “In times of austerity, when governments and citizens across Europe are tightening their purse strings, it is scandalous (not to mention illegal) to expect taxpayers to pay farmers twice.”
The texts as adopted by the Committee seek to ensure that billions will continue to be spent on a mere prolongation of the status quo under the guise of a greenwashing. It would not render the new agriculture policy more efficient as most of the spending will still be oriented towards the most damaging practices, again forcing taxpayers to pay twice; once for the subsidies and once to clean up the damage done to the environment.
MEPs voted to allow farmers who are signed up to any ‘equivalent’ certification schemes to be considered ‘green by definition’, regardless of the measures included in certifications scheme, the level of ambition and the disparity of these systems within the EU. This risks unfairly distorting competition among EU farmers because they will be still entitled to the same green payment regardless of the extent of the environmental measure they have taken.
These outcomes sadly deviate from the more legitimate, fairer and more efficient CAP subsidies which the Socialist & Democrat Group committed themselves to back in 2010.
Faustine Defossez added: “If agreed upon as it stands, this will be a failed reform. It will fail to give taxpayers value for money”. She added: “Some serious work lies ahead before the whole Parliament votes next month to repair the damage done in the Committee in order to restore the Parliament’s reputation as the peoples’ representative in the co-decision procedure.”
Civil society is now counting on the vote in the European Parliament Plenary in March in Strasbourg to present the public interest of an improved CAP, rather than the vested interested of a group of farmers.
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