On Wednesday 21 October, the Council of the European Union (EU) agreed its position on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Two days later, the EU Parliament adopted its own negotiating position, meaning negotiations between the two can now commence.
While there are significant differences between the two positions, the direction of travel clearly aims towards the environmental agenda. Both the EU Council and Parliament supported to implement further environmental rules in which farmers would have to comply with in order to continue receiving direct income support - currently delivered through the Basic Payment Scheme.
The EU Parliament is proposing to dedicate at least 35% of the Rural Development budget to all forms of environmental and climate-related measures, and at least 30% of the direct payments budget to voluntary ‘eco schemes’.
Furthermore, the Parliament also wants at least 6% of the national direct payments to be used to support small and medium-sized farms, and for payments to be capped at €100,000 while allowing for 50% of agriculture-related salaries to be taken into account in this figure.
The EU is being accused by environmental groups of moving far too slowly, branding the policy as a ‘Greenwash’ - something that EU farmers, who have grave concerns in regard to the proposals, strongly deny.