BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 11 October 2018

A CAP by farming's 1%, for farming's 1%

AGRIFISH Council meeting this coming Monday slammed by NGOs across Europe

On Monday 15 October, agriculture ministers from across Europe will have one last chance to stop the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from obliterating nature. In an open letter to the Agriculture ministers attending the upcoming AGRIFISH Council, BirdLife Europe slams the closed door process which has taken place. [1]

Not holding back, BirdLife Europe and their partners say that the AGRIFISH Council’s current course appears to be “steered by the few” who currently benefit from the policy at the expense of the many, including citizens and farmers. With roughly a third of the CAP budget pocketed by around 1% of the beneficiaries, the intensive farm lobby’s capture of the policy is as strong as ever.

60 million euro of EU taxpayer money is currently spent every year on CAP subsidies that 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 climate change.

In the open letter, proposals are put forth to ensure that the next CAP enables farmers to transition to sustainability, instead of pushing them further down the dead-end track of intensification. The proposals aim to protect natural resources which are the very basis of the farming sector and a precondition for a healthy society.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe:

Farm ministers are once again negotiating handouts to the intensive farm lobby behind closed doors. They are in complete denial about the ecological crisis sweeping through our farmlands, and leading to the collapse of biodiversity. These are existential threats we all face, with farmers on the front lines.

The open letter is available to read here.


For more information, please contact:

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy - BirdLife Europe
+32 (0)4 8663 0042


[1] Examples of lack of transparency regarding CAP:

  • No public information available on the discussions in the Council preparatory bodies (working groups), in contrast to the European Parliament bodies where all amendments tabled are shown)
  • Austrian Presidency prepared a State of Play document on 5/9/2018 which was not public. When we requested to see it, it was declined with the justification: “Release to the public of the information contained in the document would affect the discussions and diminish the chances of the Council reaching an agreement as it may put delegations under additional pressure of stakeholders.”
  • Unlike for other policies, where preparation for the Councils are done by COREPER 1 or COREPER 2 composed of Deputy Permanent Representatives or Permanent Representatives respectively, for historical reasons, agricultural policy has a specific body Special Committee for Agriculture (SCA). This means that on Permanent Representation level, all decisions are made solely by agriculture representatives of Member States.

[2] “Last Chance CAP” – a policy brief by BirdLife Europe, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Greenpeace and WWF-EPO is available here

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.