Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia - Press statement 18 October 2017

BirdLife Europe: German Farmers' Association totally loses credibility with absurd call for billions of subsidies for simple compliance with EU environmental law

BirdLife Europe – together with its German partner NABU – criticizes, as smoke and mirrors, the study presented today by the German farmers' association on the alleged costs of compliance with European environmental law in the agricultural sector. The study is an obvious attempt by the German Farmers' Union to defend the existing system of 50 billion euros of CAP subsidies, flowing mostly into the pockets of large scale industrial farmers and landowners.

In its analysis the German Farmers' Association expects "additional costs of around € 5.2 billion per year" because of EU environmental laws. This figure is derived by summing up costs of complying with the existing laws covering water protection, fertilizers or animal welfare. Ludicrously, it includes the cost of paper work required to apply for subsidies. No attempt is made to balance costs with benefits, to compare costs with subsidies received or to rigorously quantify actual economic costs.

BirdLife Europe’s Senior Head of Policy Ariel Brunner said, "This study does a terrible disservice to the farming community. The basic logic is flawed and unacceptable: should we really be compensating anyone in society for not being able to use child labour or dump his waste into a river? He added „we need a new CAP that helps farmers make the necessary ecological transition; for that we need rigorous analysis and intelligent dialogue. Scaremongering using incoherent propaganda dressed up as science takes us nowhere“.

Birdlife Europe together with NABU urges the German farmers' association to rethink its logic. To convince finance ministers and taxpayers that billions should continue to flow, they must show an increased contribution to public goods like biodiversity. BirdLife Europe and its national partner organisations have long been demanding that the important contributions to nature conservation from sustainable farming should be recognized and rewarded in an appropriate way. The current system is unfair to farmers and enriches a small minority at the expense of the majority of farmers while harming society at large.

BirdLife Europe considers that the payment of direct subsidies must end. For the coming EU agricultural reform and the post 2020 EU budget, BirdLife Europe calls for a new nature conservation instrument to be set up instead. This should be at least € 15 billion per year and serve to a large extent to reward those farmers taking good care of our common heritage and ecological life support system. In addition, investment aid is necessary so that farmers can change the way they treat livestock and land so that their production can be sustainable on the long run- ecologically, economically and socially.

For further information, please contact:
Raphael Weyland, EU Conservation Policy Officer, NABU
Office: +32 (0) 2 280 08 30
Mobile: +32 (0) 487 457 191

Link to the BirdLife Europe position for a new European Food and Land-Use Policy:
Link to the NABU website on the CAP reform (in English):


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.