Through the green smokescreen
BirdLife International launches a new report in Brussels today which reveals how rules attached to EU subsidy receipts are failing biodiversity.
Entitled: ‘Through the green smokescreen. How is CAP cross compliance delivering for biodiversity?’ it analyses the system of rules attached to the receipt of the bulk of EU CAP subsidies which amounts to €31 billion each year. The report underlines the need for fundamental reform of the CAP for the post-2013 period.
”It is disheartening to see that we are systematically failing to support sustainable farming, while often subsidizing environmental harm”, said Luigi Boccaccio from the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK). ”An urgent overhaul of the CAP is needed to bring it in line with society’s needs and expectations”.
Cross compliance is a set of rules, including environmental standards, which beneficiaries of CAP payments are required to respect. Despite representing an important improvement of the CAP, cross compliance is still far from robustly supporting biodiversity protection.
The report highlights a number of structural weaknesses affecting the current system of cross compliance and the Single Payment Scheme, which prevent these instruments from delivering for biodiversity and the environment.
BirdLife’s analysis unveils a lack of clear policy objectives, targets and mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the results, therefore concluding that this policy is not in line with the principles of efficiency and effectiveness that must apply to EU budget spending.
"The system of payment reductions for infringement of cross compliance is intrinsically weak and poorly enforced" —Ariel Brunner, Senior EU Agriculture Policy Officer at the BirdLife International European Division
"Cross compliance and the Single Payment Scheme still do not reflect the ‘polluter-pays’ principle” commented Ariel Brunner, Senior EU Agriculture Policy Officer at the BirdLife European Division. “This means that CAP subsidies are paid even when environmental pollution is taking place. Our research confirms the findings of a report published by the European Court of Auditors in 2008 that the system of payment reductions for infringement of cross compliance is often poorly enforced, with many cases of intentional non-compliance with environmental standards being considered as negligence, or repeated breaches being under-counted".
The report highlights how environmental rules are often partially implemented, inconsistent and weakly enforced. On the other hand, rules on registration and identification of livestock are being strictly enforced and place a disproportionate burden on extensive livestock systems. These systems, which are crucial for biodiversity, often receive lower subsidies than intensive farms. A similarly inappropriate approach has been taken for standards on preventing scrub encroachment on agricultural land, forcing farmers in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Latvia to damage habitats protected under EU law.
The study calls for a profound reform of the CAP, realigning the whole policy to the principles of rural development policy, which currently represents the best model to reward biodiversity conservation and the delivery of other public goods.
Download the full report here.
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Credits: BirdLife International, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK)