European Parliament throws out the CAP’s green architecture, undermining sustainability and democratic process

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The EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), which absorbs a third of the EU budget, no longer has any environmental legitimacy. In a disastrous vote late on Wednesday, Members of the European Parliament voted to strip away the already weak environmental measures from the CAP. With a shocking 425 votes in favour and 130 votes against, the Parliament has agreed to weaken the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs). The GAECs are meant to safeguard biodiversity and soil health – both crucial for food production and the livelihoods of farmers.  

The Parliament voted to allow valuable grasslands, crucial for climate regulation and water retention, to be ploughed up more easily. MEPs also discarded obligations for farmers in receipt of subsidies to allow ‘space for nature’ on their land – a corner for natural vegetation or fallow land. In addition to negatively affecting farmers in the long-term, the results of these votes are also a significant setback in the European Union’s efforts to promote sustainable agriculture and combat climate change.

Within just one month, the entire process, from the Commission’s proposal of the simplification package in March, to the vote in the Parliament yesterday, has been completed. A democratically weak, emergency voting procedure skipped stakeholders’ consultations or impact assessments.  

This move, orchestrated by right and far-right parties, exploits ongoing farmer protests to advance narrow political agendas. Most importantly, it fails to address the real issue: the disproportionate distribution of CAP subsidies, with 80% going to the wealthiest 20% of farmers.

By dismantling environmental safeguards and catering to the interests of a select few, this decision makes a mockery of the nature and climate crises, undermines democratic processes, and betrays the trust citizens place in them. The European Council has already expressed support for this legislative proposal and is likely to officially endorse it before the European Elections in June.

Marilda Dhaskali, EU Agriculture Officer at BirdLife Europe: “Yesterday, the European Parliament paved the way for anti-democratic, anti-environmental, and above all, anti-farmers legislation, yielding to a powerful agri-business lobby that serves only a few. Food security, the future of farmers, and citizens were sacrificed for the sake of short-term profits and political calculations. Farmers cannot produce food without thriving nature, and profit cannot be made when crops are lost in floods, droughts, or fires aggravated by climate change.”

Martin Hellicar, Director of BirdLife Cyprus, added: “Farmers in Cyprus and elsewhere need EU support to transition to more sustainable production methods in the face of the gathering climate and biodiversity crisis. This disastrous simplification makes a mockery of the CAP and means public funds will be spent supporting ‘business-as-usual’ farming, with no tangible public benefit.”


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