Europe and Central Asia
30 Nov 2020

Open letter: make the CAP trilogues transparent

By BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
The CAP, the Common Agricultural Policy, works as the EU’s farming subsidies system. The next CAP period will last seven years, and will cost €387 billion in public money. It has a tremendous impact on Europe’s farming system, and as a consequence, greatly affects biodiversity and the climate.
The European Commission, Council and Parliament are currently negotiating the future of the CAP. You would think that on a topic of such fundamental importance to European citizens, these discussions would be transparent, right? Well, you'd be wrong. Although democracy is one of the fundamental values of the EU, these ‘trilogue’ discussions are hidden from European citizens.
That's why, as a coalition of civil society organisations, we are sending the following open letter to call on those behind the closed doors to make the trilogues transparent.
Brussels, 30 November 2020
Norbert Lins, Chair of the Committee of Agriculture and Rural Development of the European
Pascal Canfin, Chair of the Committee of Environment of the European Parliament
Julia Klöckner, Minister of Agriculture of the Federal Republic of Germany
Maria do Céu Antunes, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Portugal
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission,
Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
Cc: Peter Jahr, Ulrike Müller, Eric Andrieu, Christophe Hansen, Rapporteurs for the CAP
Subject: Transparency of CAP Trilogues process
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
Dear Ministers,
Dear Executive Vice-President of the European Commission,
Dear Commissioner,
We are writing to you as NGOs to request that the CAP trilogue process be made as transparent and open as possible. The CAP is of critical importance to the success of the European Green Deal, including the ‘Farm to Fork’ and Biodiversity Strategies. Given its volume of 387 billion € of EU taxpayers’ money until 2027, it is a matter of significant public interest, therefore extended transparency of the decisionmaking process should be the norm for all discussions on these files.
Trilogues form a regular part of the EU decision making process and are applied to 70-80% of EU legislative procedures. Yet the level of transparency normally falls significantly behind that of other
proceedings in the EU Institutions, especially in the European Parliament. Such a lack of transparency in trilogue negotiations has repeatedly been a point of discussions, subject to investigation by the EU
Ombudsman and rulings by the European Court of Justice.
In 2016, the EU Ombudsman called upon the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council to improve the transparency of trilogue negotiations, by publishing key documents such as the agendas and minutes of meetings. Despite promises by the legislators to improve the access to documents, especially to the so-called “4-column” document, information on the ongoing negotiations on the three CAP files is not accessible to the general public.
European citizens’ right to participate in EU policy-making processes is enshrined in Article 10(3) of the Treaty of the European Union, which also requires decisions to be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizens. Transparency in trilogue proceedings is an essential requirement for citizens’ ability to exercise their democratic rights, as confirmed by the General Court in case T-540/15 De Capitani v Parliament: “If citizens are to be able to exercise their democratic rights they must be in a position to follow in detail the decision-making process within the institutions taking part in the legislative procedures and to have access to all relevant information.”
The CAP is of critical importance for Europe’s success in addressing multiple issues of public interest, from the climate and biodiversity crises, to public health and animal welfare concerns. It is therefore essential that European citizens are able to follow and engage with decision-making processes, including the ongoing trilogue meetings on the three CAP files between your institutions. That is why we call on you to systematically and in a timely manner publish the calendar and agendas of upcoming meetings, and after each political trilogue meeting, the minutes of the meeting and the latest version of the 4-column documents.
We are looking forward to your timely response and remain available for any inquiries you might have.
Yours sincerely,
Katarina Jurikova, Coordinator, Agro ekoforum
Francesco Panella, President, BeeLife
Ariel Brunner, Acting Director, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
Franco Ferroni, Spokesperson, Cambiamo Agricoltura
Anais Berthier, Head of EU Affairs, ClientEarth
Olga Kikou, Head of EU office, Compassion in World Farming
Martin Pigeon, Researcher and campaigner, Corporate Europe Observatory
Stefania Petrosillo, Policy Officer, EUROPARC Federation
Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, European Environmental Bureau
Nikolai Pushkarev, Policy Coordinator on Food Systems, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Tilmann Disselhoff, President, Eurosite
Pierre Sultana, Director European Policy Office, FOUR PAWS
Jagoda Munić, Director, Friends of the Earth Europe
Jorgo Riss, Director, Greenpeace European Unit
Eduardo Cuoco, Director, IFOAM Organics Europe
Shefali Sharma, Director European Office, Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy
Agnieszka Makowska, Coalition Coordinator, Living Earth Coalition, Poland
Mathieu Wittmann, Coordinator, Meng Landwirtschaft
Saskia Richartz, Head of Campaign, Meine Landwirtschaft | Wir haben es satt!
François Veillerette, President, PAN Europe
Fernando Vinegla, Coordinator, Por Otra PAC
Marta Messa, Director, Slow Food Europe
Joost de Jong, Transitiecoalitie Voedsel
Nicholas Aiossa, Deputy Director, Transparency International EU
Yurena Lorenzo, Head of Office & Programme Manager, Wetlands International Europe
Ester Asin, Director, WWF - European Policy Office

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. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.