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New report: CAP Strategic Plans fail to deliver for farmers and nature, and jeopardise long-term food security – NGOs analyse 17 EU national strategies.

Almost all EU Member States’ national strategic plans (CSPs) have now been submitted and approved by the European Commission, and the rollout of the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), adopted in 2021, is underway.

Breaking with convention, this new CAP (the latest in a 60-year-old series) boasted a number of new environmental provisions, and was hailed by many as the ‘greenest ever’.

But on closer inspection, how truly green is this CAP?

BirdLife Europe, NABU, and the European Environmental Bureau have published a report appraising the environmental credentials of 17 of the EU’s CAP Strategic Plans. Regrettably, the findings make for grim reading.

With many Member States demonstrating a worrisome lack of commitment, largely opting for the bare minimum of environmental requirements in their agricultural plans, and the Commission itself proving impotent to demand further necessary action from Member States, the result is that the EU is now locked in for five years of inaction in precisely the sector where it is most acutely required.

While this CAP, in the context of Europe’s 2019 Green Deal, was seen by many as a major opportunity to guide the transition to a greener and more sustainable future, status quo continuity is the only real winner. With no target-bound climate expectations for Member States to fulfil, the EU’s most expensive and extensive policy will continue pouring funding into a sector with little to no conditionality regarding how funds are spent, or which agricultural practices are employed. In many cases, hefty subsidies continue to prop up harmful and self-defeating industries, such as synthetic fertilisers and toxic pesticides, which damage biodiversity, degrade soil, harm human health and put at risk agricultural livelihoods and our future capacity to grow food.

Marilda Dhaskali from BirdLife Europe comments:

“This CAP budget will fund the same old, nature-killing practices it always has – the only improvements are superficial at best. The bulk of the budget is still flowing to no-strings-attached per hectare incomes and the coupled support is largely gorging intensive livestock, while the good interventions are insufficiently subsidised and not competitive for farmers. This status quo CAP isn’t fit for the transformative changes we need right now to secure our capacity to produce food in the future.”

Laura Henningson of NABU observes:

“This CAP won’t reverse the dramatic loss of biodiversity in our agricultural landscapes. Structural problems persist and apart from some positive schemes, others are either a step back or lack sufficient funding and competitive premia. Thus, a lot of money will be wasted on preserving the status quo rather than saving nature. Biodiversity loss is a major threat to nature and our agricultural productivity.”

Célia Nyssens of the European Environmental Bureau notes that:

“EU countries show a shocking lack of ambition on climate action in their national farming plans. They are not only failing to phase out harmful practices and incentivise a large-scale transition to climate-friendly farming, but even worse, will continue to actively support highly polluting activities, like intensive livestock farming and peatlands drainage. Another five years of climate inaction in agriculture – or even counteraction – jeopardise our climate targets, and most importantly, farmers’ own livelihoods.”

For more information, please contact:

Caroline Herman, Communications Officer, BirdLife Europe
[email protected]

Ben Snelson, Associate Communications Officer, EEB
[email protected]

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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.