During the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg, chaired by German Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner, member states agreed on reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy. It will be greener, simpler and fairer, with a uniform standard for environmental services for the first time.
One of the key objectives of the German Council Presidency has thus been achieved. After two days of in-tense negotiations, the Council adopted its “general approach” on Tuesday night. This approach is the Council’s mandate to enter into trilogue negotiations on the CAP re-form with the European Parliament and the Commission.
With the adoption of the German Presidency’s proposal, clear guidelines will, for the first time, be defined for environmental protection under the CAP. The member states have committed to applying high standards to the so-called “Green Architecture”, i.e. the regulations aimed at supporting services rendered by the agricultural sector in the fields of environmental conservation and climate change mitigation. Furthermore, any direct payment will be made contingent on clearly defined conditions in the future. Subsidies will only be granted if requirements for greater sustainability are met. This means that farmers will only receive benefits if they render services in return. Examples include the conservation of permanent grassland, the protection of wetlands, the removal of land from production to promote biodiversity, or crop rotation to ensure greater variety in the fields. Although the high standard of environmental services provided for in the German proposal was controversial among the member states, Federal Minister Julia Klöckner finally succeeded in receiving endorsement for it in the negotiations.