Amid exasperated calls for a genuine reform of the destructive and expensive policy, last week MEPs voted on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The result? Business-as-usual with a wash of green paint. Gemma Bowcock reCAPs, with a little help from Twitter.
Why does the CAP matter?
Over the years we’ve published many articles explaining why the CAP is bad for people, nature and the future. We have looked at the CAP from different angles (e.g. zero-pollution and circular economy, climate neutrality and biodiversity), made a variety of videos and a lot of noise online about it, drawing attention to the urgent need to rethink the CAP. In a bid to create a positive, alternative vision for agriculture, we looked into what a bright for future farming would look like.
Interested in learning more? Find a neat summary of our positions on the CAP at eeb.org/agriculture.
So what happened?
It’s been a messy and dramatic couple of weeks in the EU Parliament as MEPs set to the task of reforming the CAP. We’ve summarised the timeline of events here, following the tweets that were written live, as it all happened.
A leaked document revealed the new deal that the three biggest groups in the Parliament were about to put forward. It showed that many of the already weak environmental elements of the current CAP had been watered down even further in the new document. Money would continue to flow to industrial farms. Destruction of habitats, such as peatlands, would continue to be tolerated. ‘Eco-scheme’ payments would be redirected to serve economic goals over environmental ones.
The European Environment Agency releases The State of Nature in the EU, showing agriculture to be the main driver of biodiversity loss in Europe.
In a shock move, the vote to begin the adoption process was moved forward so that MEPs were given less than a day to read, prepare and debate the deal. Reports emerged claiming that the process was so rushed that wasn’t even time to translate the details into all the MEPs’ languages.
In the evening, despite this undemocratic move and calls from campaigners and activists, including Greta Thunberg, to reject the deal (#VoteAM1147), MEPs voted to continue the process.
The EEB put out a press release with our reaction to the previous day’s disappointing vote.
In the morning, MEPs voted against linking the CAP to European Green Deal targets and rejected the target of a 30% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2027. However, they also voted to align the CAP with the Paris Agreement targets.
In the evening, MEPs voted to continue ‘coupled support’, an environmentally harmful subsidy that mostly goes to industrial animal farming.
MEPs reject any amendment to link the CAP to the agricultural targets in the European Green Deal. Campaigners and activists take to Twitter and over 40,000 tweets are sent asking MEPs to #VoteThisCAPdown. If successful, this would mean sending the strategy back to the Commission to be reevaluated.
The tension built online as thousands of people, mainly young people, joined the movement asking Parliament to #VoteThisCAPdown.
Notwithstanding these protests, that afternoon, MEPs decided not to #VoteThisCAPdown.
A new message emerged, this time aimed at the EU Commission: #WithdrawTheCAP to save the European Green Deal.
At the time of writing, over 45,000 people had signed the letter to the Commision asking them to #WithdrawTheCAP.