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CAP – how lobbyists pull the strings behind the scenes

Immense disappointment after a  majority of EU – parliamentarians voted in favor of the CAP – proposal, on Friday 23rd October 2020. Several environmental organizations as well as the Green Party are now demanding the Commission to reject its proposal for the upcoming funding period.

What is the CAP?

CAP stands short for Common Agricultural Policy. Launched in 1962, the CAP is a common policy for all member countries, with the aim of securing farmer’s income, food supply, and fostering agricultural productivity within the EU. Since its launch the CAP holds the largest position in the European budget. In 2018 almost 71 % of the total CAP – subsidies (€ 41,74 billion out of € 58,82 billion) were dedicated to income support.

What is problematic about the CAP?

The CAP has harshly been criticized for its unequal distribution of subsidies and its missing environmental regulations. After the budget has been distributed to member countries, based on a proportional calculation, the member states distribute the money to farm companies.

The amount of money each company gets is calculated mainly – and this is the big problem – according to the area of operation and its production capacity. Regardless of their environmental contributions or, conversely, how much they harm it. (Ecosia Blog, 2020)

This results in the strengthening of the industrialized farming industry and in the weakening of small farms with organic production.

What has been decided on October 23?

The next funding period for the CAP from 2021 to 2027 has been negotiated since last year. On October 23, 2020 the MEPs voted in favor for a new proposal of its design. Despite some poor attempts, this new proposal does not include any substantial changes regarding environmental protection or the abolishment of direct payments to the largest faming industries.

Merely 30% of each received subsidy is bound to rather voluntary ecological regulations (so called Eco – Schemes). Only 10% of the soil used for agriculture shall be dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity. However, this requirement is not legally binding. (DNR, 2020)

How environmental organizations react to the new CAP proposal

Environmental organization as well as several climate youth associations and the Green Party of the EU are furious about the vote. They claim that the new proposal is a step backwards in reaching the Paris Agreement targets and not in line with the European Green Deal.

Source: Twitter @GreenpeaceEU 20.10.2020

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: “The EU farm plan, as it stands, represents only the interests of the biggest industrial producers and the richest land-owners. Ordinary farmers and nature have been cast aside by a handful of powerful MEPs with conflicts of interest, and the EU’s climate goals jeopardised. Billions of euro of public money will drive farming further into climate catastrophe, unless the European Commission scraps this plan and starts fresh.” (Greenpeace press release, 23.10.2020)

written by Isabella P.


DNR (2020): Nach der GAP-Abstimmung: Reaktionen und wie geht es weiter? Von deutscher Naturschutzring, am 29.10.20. Online available at: https://www.dnr.de/eu-koordination/eu-umweltnews/2020-landwirtschaft-gentechnik/nach-der-gap-abstimmung-reaktionen-und-wie-geht-es-weiter/ (accessed October 30, 2020).
Ecosia Blog (2020): Vote this Cap down. From Fátima on 23 October, 2020. Online available at: https://blog.ecosia.org/vote-the-cap-down-save-europes-future/ (accessed October 30, 2020).
European Commission (2018): The common agricultural policy at a glance. Online available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-agricultural-policy/cap-glance_en#thecapafter2020 (accessed October 30, 2020).
Greenpeace (2020): EU Commission must withdraw farm plan after Parliament failure, says Greenpeace. Online available at https://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/issues/nature-food/45213/eu-commission-must-withdraw-farm-plan-after-parliament-failure-says-greenpeace/ (accessed October 30, 2020).

For detailed information about the proposal: