Europe and Central Asia
13 Oct 2020

Press Release: European Parliament parties give nature kiss of death

More species will go extinct and future generations will suffer if new proposals on the Common Agricultural Policy pass

© BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
By Honey Kohan

New leaks [1] from the European Parliament reveal that its three biggest political groups, European People’s Party (EPP), Socialists and Democrats (S&Ds) and Renew Europe have reached an environmentally destructive deal on the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The European Parliament will vote on what the CAP will look like for the next seven years. The next CAP is likely to amount to almost 400 billion euros and make up 32% of the total EU budget.

The proposals put forward by the three groups will continue to slavishly serve narrow, national, oligarchical and agro-industry interests [2]:

Among the most damaging of proposals, S&D, EPP and Renew Europe have proposed to:

  • Not provide real space for nature on farms - Science shows that if at least 10% of every farm in Europe was natural habitat – such as hedgerows, flower strips or ponds – then nature could come back.
  • Allow for the continuation of draining peatlands - these are a massive carbon source in current drained state (representing 25% of all EU agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and 5% of all the EU’s GHG emissions)
  • Remove the ban on ploughing and converting permanent grassland in Natura 2000 sites, which are protected areas
  • Not dedicate budget for biodiversity - 15 billion euros/year is needed from the CAP budget to save farmland species that are at risk of extinction in the coming CAP period
  • Set maximum limits on spending that serve environmental benefits
  • Ringfence 60% of the CAP for Direct Income Payments - which is the position of the intensive farm lobby, COPA-COGECA. A third of these payments will go to the top 1.5% of farmers who do not need income support.
  • Ringfence 30% of Pillar II for investments that serve economic objectives
  • Require proof that ecoschemes serve economic incentives to be funded, and will be able to go to measures whose environmental benefits are questionable, like precision farming.

These proposals could already mean the end of the EU’s ambitious Green Deal, which desperately needs a radical CAP reform in order to succeed. Shockingly, the Socialists and Democrats vision for the Green Deal pledges to “reform the EU Common Agricultural Policy [...] into important climate and sustainability tools, making them fully compatible with the renewed climate and environment ambitions.[3]

Right now, almost 60 billion euros of EU taxpayer money is spent every year on CAP subsidies, which mostly fund intensive and factory farming. The intensive agriculture model it promotes directly leads to biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, over-extraction of water and contributes to the climate crisis.

Numerous studies and over 3600 scientists that the intensive farming the CAP promotes is pushing many species towards extinction [4]. Since 1980, the EU has lost 57% of its farmland birds. Butterflies, bees and flying insects are also in serious decline.

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe:
This proposal is a declaration of surrender to intensive agriculture lobbies and oligarchs. Members of the European Parliament, especially those from Socialist and Democrat and Renew groups, who have promised action on the climate and biodiversity emergencies, cannot be so irresponsible. If they want their legacy to be saving species from extinction, and safeguarding our children’s future, they must not put their name to this dangerous package.”

ENDS.

For more information please contact:
Honey Kohan, Media Officer, BirdLife Europe
honey.kohan@birdlife.org
+32 483 55 95 43

 

Notes for editors:

[1] The leaked article and annex, together with comments from environmental NGOs

[2] New York Times investigation - The Money Farmers: How Oligarchs and Populists Milk the E.U. for Millions

[3] Socialists and Democrats pledge to reform the CAP

[4] Several studies have shown that the intensive farming model the CAP promotes is pushing many species towards extinction:

 

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.

 



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