GUE/NGL group outlines 'fair and democratic' overhaul of CAP

Written by Martin Banks on 17 August 2018 in News
News

Parliament’s GUE/NGL group has launched plans for what it calls a “fair and democratic” common agricultural policy (CAP).

Photo credit: Press Association


The GUE/NGL group said the much-criticised CAP, currently under review as part of a major debate on the EU’s post-2020 budget, has “failed farmers and EU citizens”, claiming that one European farm has gone bust “every three minutes in the last decade alone.”

The group’s proposals call for a “decent” income for small and medium farms, and higher social protection for farmers and agricultural workers; a “fair” alternative to free trade agreements and the end of export subsidies; a “climate-friendly and healthier CAP” and a gender and age balance in the sector.

The proposals come in response to the post-2020 CAP recently outlined by the Commission.

On 1 June, the Commission presented legislative proposals on the CAP beyond 2020. The Commission proposes that funding for the CAP is moderately reduced - by around five per cent - to “reflect the new reality of a Union at 27.”

The Commission proposes to reduce direct payments and to cap payments at €100,000 per farm with a view to ensure a “fairer distribution of payments”.

It has also called for a higher level of support per hectare for small and medium-sized farms. Under its plans, a minimum of two per cent of direct support payments allocated to each EU country will be set aside for young farmers.

However, the GUE/NGL group argued that the Commission’s post-2020 CAP proposals “continue the same old policies that have benefited mostly large agri-businesses, with dire costs to the environment, animals and public health.”

It claimed that about 80 per cent of the €55bn a year of the CAP budget has gone to just 20 per cent of recipients, “showing a huge imbalance in the system.”

German MEP Stefan Eck explained the need for what he calls “an alternative CAP.”

Eck said, « Thirty years of CAP have taken a severe toll in our rural communities and our ecosystems. The CAP was disastrous for traditional family farms and impacted negatively, directly or indirectly, the lives of billions of people and billions of animals in and outside of Europe.

“The CAP brought increased concentration of production, increased levels of intensive farming and animal abuse, increased regional asymmetries and foreign external dependence on agricultural goods favouring the biggest, richest economies.

"Large agribusinesses dramatically expanded their margins, with the help of huge doses of chemicals (pesticides and fertilisers), inflicting a big blow to the environment causing more land, water and air pollution notably in Europe.

“The 2013 CAP reform had three extra overall objectives - viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources and climate action, balanced territorial development - with no visible results, so far.

“Therefore, GUE/NGL presents a Left manifesto for sustainable agriculture and forestry to show that the formulated goals are achievable, but only if we fundamentally change the direction of our policies.”

His comments were echoed by Spanish deputy Lidia Senra, who called for “a paradigm shift towards a fair and democratic CAP.”

Senra said, “The European Union must not use agriculture as a bargaining chip in trade liberalisation agreements. We must not gamble with food, our lives are not negotiable. The new CAP must incorporate a paradigm shift: placing people at the centre, instead of the market, banks and large distribution chains and agribusinesses.

“The current CAP is unfair to peasants, the society and the environment. The post-2020 CAP should be an opportunity to realise that food does matter for our well-being and that our health is not a business.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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