The European Parliament gives the green light to ease agricultural policy

The European Parliament gives the green light to ease agricultural policy

The European Parliament approved a review of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on Wednesday afternoon.

The review provides a number of mitigations that ensure, among other things, that the regulatory burden on farmers is reduced. The rules are also changing for three greening measures – so-called GAECs – which farmers must adhere to in order to qualify for the basic hectare bonus from the Common Agricultural Policy.

According to the text of the review, member states will be given more leeway in applying the requirements of the Common Agricultural Policy to keep the ratio between permanent grassland and agricultural area above 5 percent compared to 2018.

More flexible

The changes also give EU countries more flexibility to grant exemptions from Common Agricultural Policy standards, for example, if they cannot be met due to extreme weather conditions. Small farms with an area of ​​less than 10 hectares will be exempt from controls and penalties in case of non-compliance with certain Common Agricultural Policy rules.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament approved the proposals by a majority of 425 votes to 130, with 33 abstentions. In order to speed up the adoption of procedures, Parliament agreed to deal with the file within what is called an urgent procedure.

The regulation now needs council approval. But this seems like a formality. The emergency measure allows farmers and gardeners to apply revised environmental conditions for their CAP applications as early as 2024.

The European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, took the initiative to relax the Common Agricultural Policy. The reason for this was the fierce protests organized by farmers in various EU member states and in Brussels against the erosion of farmers' revenue models.

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The three exceptions to greening requirements

Specific exemptions are provided for some GAEC standards, such as:
• GAEC 6 on land cover during sensitive periods: Member States will be given more flexibility to determine which soil types to protect and in what season, based on national and regional characteristics.
• GAEC 7 on crop rotation: Crop rotation remains the main practice, but Member States can use crop diversification as an alternative. This is less difficult for farmers, especially in areas that suffer from drought or heavy rainfall.
• GAEC 8: Farmers are only obligated to maintain existing landscape features and are now encouraged on a voluntary basis to leave fallow land or create new landscape features through environmental schemes.

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