Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia - Press release 2 October 2017

Towards a new European Food and Land-Use Policy 


When it was first introduced back in 1962, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) played a pivotal role in ensuring food security for post-war Europe. Today, this expensive policy (almost 60 billion per year) is inefficient and environmentally damaging, heavily subsidizing intensive agricultural practices contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, soil erosion and water pollution. Farmland covers 45% of the EU’s land area and these habitats are rocketing towards biodiversity oblivion. That’s why BirdLife Europe & Central Asia and its EU partners call upon decision makers to transform the current CAP into a new European Food and Land-Use Policy that would be designed to meet today’s challenges and deliver on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The BirdLife vision [1] for a new European agricultural policy centres on a healthy agriculture sector – diverse in terms of farming types, produce and demography – within a rural landscape where our natural resources are managed sustainably and where biodiversity thrives. The new policy must be:

Fair – for farmers and rural communities.
Environmentally Sustainable – for clean air and water, healthy soil, and thriving plant and animal life.
Healthy – for good food and the well-being of all people.
Globally Responsible – for the planet’s climate and sustainable development around the world.

As described in our proposals [2] for the post 2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), we believe that, once the current EU financial period ends, the current two pillar system of the CAP must be replaced with a new set of funds that serve the principle of an EU "budget for results". The four main instruments that we propose for a new European Food and Land-Use Policy are:

Transition instrument for sustainable farming - a temporary investment fund (limited to two financial periods of the EU) that should help farms switch to a high-quality, nature-and-animal-friendly and profitable economic model and invest in healthy, economically diverse rural areas. It should support the long term goal to make farming sustainable and independent from public subsidies.
Sustainable Food instrument - a set of investments to build up sustainable value chains, reduce food waste and increase the demand for healthy and environmentally sound food at fair prices.
Nature and Biodiversity instrument - the central EU fund for financing about 75 % of the costs of implementation of the EU nature legislation (e.g. Natura 2000) and other key biodiversity action in Member States. In particular, the fund should reward specific biodiversity action undertaken by farmers, foresters and other land users with an earmarked minimum budget of 15 billion EUR per annum. The fund should be programmed under the lead of environmental authorities.
Space for Nature instrument -an area-based entry level payment scheme, accessible for the vast majority of farmers, which dedicates a varying percentage of each farm to (strictly non-productive) natural elements, thereby fostering biodiversity and ecosystem services across the agricultural landscape. The scheme must be free of any exemptions, equivalences or weighting factors.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia: “Intensive agriculture and loss of high-nature value farming directly and indirectly supported by different CAP measures, are driving climatic and environmental destruction, wiping out wildlife and harming public health. Over 250,000 Europeans participated in the European Commission’s public consultation calling for a radical reform of the CAP through the Living Land campaign. It’s time for the Commission to shift gear and propose a policy fit for the 21st century.ENDS

For further information, please contact
Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia     
+32 491 90 46 53

[1] BirdLife Europe & Central Asia position paper: Towards a new European Food and Land-Use Policy
[2] For an EU budget serving nature and people - Position Paper adopted by all BirdLife Partners in the European Union
[3] The Living Land campaign



Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.