The Left in the European Parliament is sounding the alarm at the prospect of a historic capitulation on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), led by the right-wing EPP group working hand in glove with big agribusiness lobbies.
A grand coalition of political groups in the European Parliament is currently engaged in side negotiations for the CAP 2021-2027 amid concerns that the outcome will be a triumph for industrial farming corporations.
Problems with the CAP are well known: almost 3 million animal farms closed down between 2005 and 2013 and 80% of the CAP payments go to the 20% of the largest, usually corporate, farms. Instead of promoting sustainable farming and investing in rural communities, the CAP has been a vehicle for their destruction.
Furthermore, the EPP is working with industry lobbyists to ensure a monumental greenwashing of the CAP, ring-fencing environmental spending to count also non-environmental spending, promoting aggressive monoculture farming that accelerates the death of biodiversity and fuelling animal welfare abuse and the ravenous exploitation of the Amazon forest for grain feed.
MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Independent, Ireland) highlighted the gravity of the moment:
“What we do in the European Parliament over the next three weeks will determine the direction of agricultural policy and its effect on the environment for the next seven years.
“Will we go for the ‘business as usual’ model and accept the greenwashing that we know has failed, or will we take the opportunity presented to us, educate ourselves on the facts, and demand that those who claim to represent us vote for a more progressive CAP.
“We will put an alternative on the table that will guarantee a fairer greener CAP, one that respects the three Pillars of a truly sustainable agriculture, Economic, Environmental and Social.
“We need others to support this, and deliver what the public wants and the planet desperately needs.”
The CAP must be fully aligned with the European Green Deal, Petros Kokkalis (SYRIZA, Greece) has said:
“We are calling for a CAP that ensures clear and strong support to resilient local and small-scale production systems. In addition, an effective framework to manage agricultural crises; a secure, stable and fair income for the farmers should be in place.
“I strongly believe that the CAP should be fully aligned with the European Green Deal, especially with regard to biodiversity, and the ‘farm to fork’ strategy. Climate crisis and the pandemic call for us to rethink our food security, and our farming practices. The EU needs to redesign its food system tο achieve a healthy, sustainable, resilient and nutritious one.
“During the negotiations for the Single Common Market Organisation for agri-food products, we highlighted that the meat denomination issue is of great importance for both consumer protection and information, as well as animal welfare. We demand a clear and analytical indication of meat products and meat preparations including their content, together with products and preparations that do not contain meat, to have a big range of qualified terms (plant-based, meat-free, vegan, vegetarian etc) to better inform citizens.
Chris MacManus (Sinn Féin, Ireland) condemned the right-wing alliance that has its eyes set on undermining the CAP:
“I am very concerned by the right-wing alliance of the big political groups in the European Parliament such as EPP, which has developed during negotiations for the upcoming CAP. It is clear their intention is to halt the CAP’s transition to a performance-based model. This means weakening the performance model by removing key elements of the text that would ensure penalisation of member states for failing to meet set outputs on an annual basis. European citizens want to see a CAP that meets our environmental ambitions and this cannot be achieved if we strip away conditionality and weaken the sanctions component, which keeps Member States on track to meeting their own targets. This is in complete contradiction to the spirit of the European Green Deal.
“We are battling to protect the transition to a more performance based model. A failure to do so would greatly damage the reputation of the CAP among European taxpayers. The only CAP the Left can stand over is one which works for farmers and for our planet.
“Nevertheless, I welcome the CAP finally allowing Member States to design a programme which fits their specific needs, in the form of the strategic plans, however this must not come at the price of an abandonment of environmental ambition,” MacManus concluded.