With today’s conclusion of the three-way dialogue between the EU Council of Ministers, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, almost all the main aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy towards 2020 have been defined. We can state with certainty that the new CAP has not met its stated objectives, aimed at orienting European agriculture in a “greener and fairer” direction. Worse, the hopes of civil society, which had asked for “public money for public goods,” common resources be destined towards common objectives and goods, have been dashed.
Slow Food’s reaction to the agreements reached is cold, to say the least, most of all because they leave too much discretion to member states on fundamental issues, like support for small-scale farmers, the capping and reduction of the largest payments in favor of those who receive less (80% of European farmers) and the movement of resources from the pillar reserved for rural development towards the already predominant pillar linked to direct payments.
“A real Common Policy should be common, shared, and not able to be interpreted or redefined according to national interests, which unfortunately tend to be easily directed by the lobbies in favor of big business and monocultures,” responded Carlo Petrini. We can talk about the “de-Europeanization” of the CAP: “It’s clear that now our actions for a greener and fairer agriculture will have to switch their focus to national governments, putting pressure on them to ensure that small-scale, sustainable agriculture is not overly penalized. The fight continues.”
In terms of the so-called “greening”—the environmentally friendly practices that must be put in place to receive 30% of direct payments—unfortunately the starting point remains weak. The measure is based on an important principle, but its implementing regulations mean it risks exempting 60% of cultivated land in Europe.
Additionally, the lack of a mechanism for monitoring the CAP’s impact on poor or developing countries does not seem to us to show any real desire to bring an end to commercial practices that can have a strong impact on the problems of hunger, malnutrition and food sovereignty in the world’s communities.
While a few improvements that have been made, like a small increase in the subsidy for young farmers or the bureaucratic simplifications for small farms, they are not sufficient to change a judgment that remains, on the whole, negative.