BirdLife International's vision for the future of the CAP
The wide-ranging review of the EU budget that the European Commission has started following the request of Member States, will include a thorough assessment of CAP spending. This review will provide the unique opportunity to readjust the CAP to the challenges of the 21st century, from 2013 onwards (read more about the EU Budget Review).
Since farmers are the main land managers of Europe, how they manage this land affects us all. Society requires land management to yield private goods, such as food, fibre and fuel; as well as public goods, from which we all benefit: clean water, healthy ecosystems, wildlife, thriving rural communities and beautiful landscapes. The role of public intervention in land management must therefore be about securing these public benefits. This principle guides our vision and recommendations for the future of the CAP that are presented here.
1) Establish a common sustainable land management and rural development policy
In the long term, our vision is for Pillar 1 of the CAP to be phased out, with funds transferred to a sustainable rural development fund based on the current Rural Development Regulation. The central element of this system should be supporting sustainable land management through regulation, agri-environment and Natura 2000 payments.
All farmers should be required to comply with a minimum legislative baseline based on the principle of ‘do no harm’, which would ensure, for example, the protection of landscape feature and valuable habitats. Above that, there should be basic Agri-environment Schemes that are open to all farmers in the EU. The measure should include straightforward, practical measures designed to enhance the farmed environment and encourage more sustainable farming practices, such as creating flower-rich areas for invertebrates and birds, and establishing buffer strips to reduce water pollution and soil erosion.
Advanced Agri-environment Schemes should also be used by all Member States and regional governments to address specific environmental issues, such as the conservation of key species and habitats, especially where there is not enough support or funding through other mechanisms, including Natura 2000 designation. These schemes require more demanding management and, consequently, the payments and level of advice required by farmers would also be higher.
2) Ensure sufficient funding is dedicated to securing public goods
The principle of public money for public goods should be at the core of the CAP’s successor and of all future spend on land management and rural development. A common policy for sustainable land management and rural development would provide the mechanism for delivering a sustainable agriculture in the EU, but to do so it needs sufficient funding. The level of funding should be based on evidence of needs, and set according to actual social and environmental requirements.
This funding should be delivered by transferring funds from the Single Payment Scheme into Pillar 2 through progressively increasing the modulation rate. Co-funding, which requires Member States to share some of the costs with the EU, would ensure that Member States feel ownership of the policy and increase the domestic pressure for accountability. A higher rate of EU funding should be employed for lower-income countries and regions so that they are not disadvantaged by this system.
3) Deliver good management of Europe’s protected areas
The Natura 2000 network of protected areas is designed to protect Europe’s wildlife and their its habitats, and is in the centre of the EU’s efforts to halt biodiversity decline. At the same time it is essential for climate change adaptation. The conservation objectives of many Natura 2000 sites require the maintenance of traditional land management practices, such as extensive grazing and mowing for hay production. Natura 2000 cannot achieve its aims without a robust and dedicated system of funding for continuing these sympathetic management practices, which are often uncompetitive in today’s market conditions.
Agricultural and forest habitats represent 60% of Natura 2000 sites; bringing these habitats into good condition and maintaining this will depend on sufficient funds being ring-fenced for supporting sustainable land management on these sites.
Joint Proposal BirdLife, EEB, EFNCP, IFOAM, WWF : Proposal for a new EU Common Agricultural Policy ( Dec.2009)
Related publication: 'New Challenges, New CAP' BirdLife's vision for the future of the EU CAP