30. Oktober 2020

Letter and answer: Dear president, save our EU Green Deal, withdraw this CAP!

Green New Deal

Subject: Request for withdrawal of the CAP-proposal

Dear President Von der Leyen,

Last week both the European Council and the European Parliament adopted disastrous positions on the reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Seven years and nearly 400 billion euros (about a third of the EU’s budget) that have to be used for greening the agricultural sector are about to be wasted.

Agriculture is a big contributor to climate change and biodiversity loss. The world is warming fast and we are losing birds, pollinators and ecosystems at an alarming rate, we cannot squander time nor money.

Without serious action through the CAP, the goals of the EU’s Green Deal, Biodiversity Strategy and Farm2Fork Strategy are at jeopardy. The European Commission has to respond.

A large part of the problem is that the original CAP reform proposal of the European Commission is weak and outdated. That while it is the fundament on which all further decisions in the legislative process are being made. It comes from the previous (Juncker) Commission. When it came out, the EU Court of Auditors and scientists immediately warned that it is not fit for purpose.

That was still before your Commission came into place and before you presented the Green Deal and all the EU’s new environmental and climate goals for 2030: 55% greenhouse gas reduction, 10% of the agricultural land dedicated to nature, 50% pesticides and antibiotics reduction, 20% less fertilizers, to name a few. With the introduction of these new goals the Commission’s old CAP-proposal became even more outdated than it already was, yet it remained on the table.

These goals simply cannot be met by the EU if we continue negotiating on the basis of the current Commission’s CAP proposal. After this week it has also become clear that neither Council nor Parliament is planning to strengthen the text.

We therefore ask you to act. Just like the Commission has the right to make proposals, it has the right to withdraw them. We ask you to make use of this right. There are ample reasons to do so: the proposal is not in line with the new EU’s objectives, taxpayer money threatens to be misspent, and citizens are not being sufficiently protected against climate change and environmental damage.

President Von der Leyen, bring the legislative process on the EU’s farming policy and a third of the EU’s budget on the right track. It is time to withdraw the Commission’s weak and outdated CAP proposal and present a new one that is in line with the EU’s Green Deal. Both nature and European citizens are counting on you.  Of course, the Commission has the right to intervene into the legal process by presenting strong proposals of the Green Deal into the process, but time is running short.

It is now from highest importance to stop the silence. We ask you, Ms President, and Executive Vice President Timmermans to speak out load on the disastrous voting results in both the Council and Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Bas Eickhout
Vice-Chair Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)
Greens/EFA in the European Parliament


Dear Members ofthe European Parliament,

Thank you for your letter of 28 October in which you ask for the withdrawal of the proposals for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), essentially on grounds ofwhat you consider to be the inability ofsuch proposals, as currently amended by the co-legislators, to deliver on the climate and environmental ambitions of the European Green Deal.

The Commission will express itself in more detail in the coming weeks. I would like, however, to make it clear from the outset that the Commission – notwithstanding the challenge that this represents, remains convinced that the negotiation process, if underpinned by a joint determination to honour our collective commitment towards sustainability, can result in a new CAP that is fit for purpose. I am therefore not considering a withdrawal.

Like any major legislative initiative, the success of the CAP Reform requires the full engagement of the Commission, the Parliament and the Council, both in terms oftheir respective prerogatives and responsibilities.

As you point out, the CAP reform proposal was adopted under the previous Commission mandate. In line with the principle of institutional continuity, the new Commission endorsed it, notwithstanding that the European Green Deal cast a new light on the compelling necessity ofthe new CAP to deliver results that are commensurate with our new collective ambition. This spring we specified in the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity Strategies a number ofclear objectives that we should attain to contribute to a more sustainable and healthy food system. We also concluded that such objective should be embedded in the new CAP, and that the Commission proposal would be apt to deliver these results.

Both the Council and the Parliament have now set out their respective positions regarding the CAP Reform. Certain aspects of these positions may prima facie raise doubts on the capacity ofsuch a CAP to produce the results that we agree upon. It is nonetheless our democratic duty to work relentlessly towards a good compromise taking into account all legitimate interests, in full respect ofour different opinions, but also in full awareness ofour collective commitment to deliver on the Green Deal objectives.

A good compromise would mean in my view that we agree on a new CAP that ensures food security and a fair income for farmers, but equally delivers for climate and biodiversity objectives in a far more effective and decisive manner than in the current period. A good compromise will tangibly reward farmers that integrate biodiversity, environmental protection and climate-friendly practices into their daily work. It should enable the CAP to be a key driver ofthe real change that we all agree must happen, and happen now.

I trust that we have very similar ideas on what a good compromise would be for an effective green architecture, notably with regard to eco-schemes, conditionality and the budget for climate and biodiversity in rural development. We may just have a different opinion on how to get there. In the coming weeks I will indicate in detail what elements ofthe CAP Reform are essentialfor the European Commission, ifwe are to honour our shared ambitions about climate, environment and afairfarming income.

Rest assured that the Commission is determined to play its full role in the trilogue negotiations, not only as a honest broker between the co-legislators, but also as a driving forcefor greater sustainability and as guardian ofthe ambition that we are confident the current proposal can deliver. I very much welcome your active involvement in ensuring that we will have a CAP that meetsfarmers ’ needs and society ’s expectations and count on your constructive support to collectively achieve this.

Yours sincerely,

Ursula von der Leyen