As the new European Parliament is reaching the final stages of its formation, Slow Food Europe along with other 27 civil society organizations takes this opportunity to approach the newly formed Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). In an open letter, organizations call on 48 Members of the Committee to work towards a fundamentally green and fair reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Civil society groups are expected to meet with the AGRI Committee on Wednesday to address their concerns in person.
It was the former AGRI Committee which just before the European Elections voted against the majority of amendments previously supported by the Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI). These amendments included proposals such as supporting increased funding for ecological farming and cuts for intensive animal farms. The current AGRI Committee is expected to vote on the CAP file again before it goes to the Plenary session.
Slow Food Europe and other signatory organizations are certain that the proposed changes to the CAP, as voted by the previous AGRI Committee, are “woefully inadequate to meet the magnitude of the environmental and social challenges” in Europe’s farming sector. As of now, the CAP reform is set to continue supporting intensive agriculture, a major driver of biodiversity loss and climate change. One-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture; meanwhile, biodiversity is declining at “unprecedented rates”. The coalition of producers, farmers, environmental protection, animal welfare, international development, food and health organizations urges the Members of the Committee to redirect the CAP spending “towards promoting nature and animal welfare friendly farming” as a way to respond to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.
In the letter, organizations request the newly elected Members of Parliament (MEPs) to increase collaboration between the various committees, reminding them that “agriculture does not exist in isolation, therefore a joined-up, inclusive and coherent approach to agricultural policy is urgently needed”. Last year, the Parliament decided to grant the ENVI Committee a “shared competence” with the AGRI Committee over the environmental aspects of the CAP. However, the vote on the CAP file which took place in the AGRI Committee in April is an illustration of the lack of inter-committee collaboration and of the dominance of the AGRI Committee as the propositions made by the ENVI Committee were disregarded entirely.
Closer collaboration will certainly be needed not only between the Committees but within the AGRI Committee itself. The two largest political groups – the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) – with 22 seats combined, fell short of securing a majority in the Committee. They will need to find consensus with other political groups, including the Greens. Even though the fourth biggest political group did not manage to secure any of the top EU positions, it is likely they will have more leverage than during the previous Parliament. in addition to the success of the Greens, MEPs should keep in mind the recent wave of climate protests across Europe during which citizens expressed a clear position to have a greener future.
Indre Anskaityte, Slow Food Europe