Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 1 June 2018

CAP Greenwash 2.0
Nature in peril as Europe faces another decade of biodiversity-killing intensive farming

Today the European Commission released their highly anticipated Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform. The new plan does not guarantee any spending on biodiversity and grotesquely slashes funds ring-fenced for the environment across the board [1]. The heart of the new policy sees a massive renationalization of decision-making power over farm subsidies. The lack of effective environmental safeguards opens the doors to a new wave of support for harmful intensive farming.

The European Commission’s claim that the new proposal will deliver a higher environmental and climate ambition has fallen flat. The reform pins all its hopes to achieve EU objectives on wishful thinking, assuming that Member States will pursue public over vested interests. The last 20 years of CAP implementation suggests that when given the option, agricultural ministers tend to cave in to the powerful intensive farming lobby. The prospect of increased subsidiarity without increased accountability raises the spectre of a race to the bottom where each country tries to outcompete the other with production subsidies. This would lead to a downward spiral of overproduction, increasingly devastating environmental impacts and collapsing farm viability.

The CAP proposal fails outright to deliver on the fundamental change needed in Europe now.

  1. It ignores the collapse of biodiversity by not allocating money for Natura 2000, the European network of protected sites, and massively reduces ring-fenced funds for the environment.
  2. It makes no credible attempt to support the promised transition to sustainable farming, and leaves the door wide open to perverse subsidies.
  3. It completely overlooks the need to change consumption patterns ranging from unhealthy diets to food waste.

The proposal steam rolls over European citizens, completely ignoring the over 255 000 (80%) who, in the Commission’s own public consultation, called for radical reform and even the majority of farmers who said that the CAP does not do enough for the environment [3].

The ball is now in the camp of Member States and the European Parliament who can still save biodiversity from its CAP-driven collapse. It is time for heads of states, finance ministers and leaders of political groups to stand up to the intensive farm lobby and defend citizens’ interests.  

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe:

“This proposal drives another nail in the coffin of European biodiversity and puts the future of European farming in jeopardy. The CAP at this point has lost its last shred of legitimacy as a way of spending almost half a trillion euros of citizens money.”

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe:

“This is a terrible missed opportunity to use the CAP money to secure a healthy future for Europeans. Nature cannot survive another decade of intensive agriculture, so MEPs and Agriculture Ministers need to wake up and make the CAP another reason for citizens to believe in the EU project.”



For more information please contact:

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

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe
Mobile: +32 (0)4 7888 7302


[1]: The new plan does not guarantee any spending on biodiversity and grotesquely slashes funds ring-fenced for the environment across the board. 6.48% of the new CAP budget is ring-fenced for the environment and nature compared to 30% in the old budget. A break down of the budget is available here:

[2]: The European Commission’s online Consultation on modernising and simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was open to public responses from 2 February to 2 May 2017. Through our LivingLand campaign, 258,708 citizens responded in the second largest ever response to an EU public consultation.

[3]: BirdLife Europe's policy briefing on key CAP proposal articles 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.