Photo by Johny Goerend on Unsplash

Coup for big farmers worth billions of euros in EU payments

The future of ecological farming in Europe is hanging in the balance after the main groups in the European Parliament struck a deal that will syphon tens of billions of euros to large landowners with few environmental conditions attached. 

Next week, the European Parliament and the council of national governments will separately decide a position on the Common Agricultural Policy, worth €357 billion between 2021 and 2027. A final deal is then expected next year.

On Monday night, a comfortable majority in the European Parliament (the centre-right EPP, the social democratic S&D and the liberal Renew groups) struck what environmental organisations called a “stinking deal”[1].

“A coup has been struck that will keep the cash flowing to the one percent of big landowners. This stinking deal is now very likely to be the position adopted by the biggest coalition of MEPs as they head towards a vote next week, so the threat is real,” EEB’s Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture Bérénice Dupeux said. “We are in classic EU territory; stuck in a cycle of destructive farm policy that seems to revert to the norm every time. We now face a freezing of the transition to agro-ecological farming that could last until 2027.”

The parliamentary groups agreed:

Coup for big farmers
Roughly €162 billion have been earmarked to ‘income support payments’ between 2021-2027, with few environmental strings attached. These payments are notoriously ineffective and often siphoned to the one percent largest landowners. This greatly reduces the ability of governments to steer payments towards environmental improvements.

From green to economic goals
The flagship initiative to meet environmental and climate challenges, the Eco-Scheme, worth roughly €81 billion, is being severely diluted by shifting from purely environmental objectives to economic ones, including production and farm industrialisation.

Threat to organic farmers
The single stream of CAP shown to be effective in meeting green and social goals, Environmental, Climate and Other Management Commitments, has been slashed by about €12 billion. This would reduce financial support to both organic farmers and those transitioning to agro-ecological farming.

Next week marks an agricultural crescendo for EU lawmakers, with a final vote on CAP reforms in the European Parliament on Monday and a final position agreed by agriculture ministers on Tuesday.

Read the latest in our Future Farming series, where we explore a hopeful vision for a sustainable agricultural system: