Agriculture

On 2nd February,  Phil Hogan, Agriculture Commissioner, launched a 12-week public consultationof the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that will be a precursor to the European Commission's thinking around the Mid Term review later this year and its emerging thinking for the period 2020-2027. CAP strives to aid European farmers in feeding over 500 million Europeans, with nearly 11 million farmers in total.

 

Conventional agriculture is causing enormous environmental damage in Germany, warns a study by the country’s Federal Environment Agency, saying a transition to organic farming and stricter regulation is urgently needed.

The 7th Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) took place this month at the Square in Brussels. This year's theme was 'Meeting the Food & Environmental Challenge: How to sustainably produce more with less and trade better'. The focus was on four areas: environment, sustainable agriculture, farming and trade.

Changeovers in Presidency often mean one thing – that compromises progress between European Parliament and the Member States as negotiators seek to close down their differences on Commission proposals. This time it was no different and the final days of the Irish Presidency of the Council of Ministers saw “compromise” being the name of the game in sealing a range of funding and policy objectives between the European Parliament and representatives of the Member States.

In an unprecedented move, Janez Potočnik appealed directly to MEPs on the environment committee to reintroduce the text on 12th March in the Strasbourg plenary session of Parliament on cross compliance with environmental legislation covering groundwater, sewage sludge, nitrate pollution, natural habitats and wild birds.

On Friday 8th February, European heads of state and government reached a deal on the EU budget for the period 2014-20. The total budget of €960bn (€908bn in actual payment obligations) represents a 3% reduction from the last 7 year deal and is the first time in EU’s history there has been a real-term cut in budget.

In a speech at the Forum for the Future of Agriculture, Janez Potočnik has stated his desire to publish a green paper on Phosphorus, particularly in relation to its future scarcity, contamination, and price swings. His speech said that “phosphorus is currently not in short supply but over time it will become scarcer, more expensive to mine and more saturated with contaminants.

A proposal by the European Commission to instate a two-year ban on the use of pesticides, which are linked to the decline of bee populations, has been rejected by member states with only 13 of 27 nations voting in favour of the ban. Those who voted against the Commissions proposal included the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia while Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta, France, Sweden, Latvia and Cyprus supported the ban.

The battle over the finer details of the CAP have continued this month with debates raging between the European Parliament, NGOs, and the Agricultural Committee. Previously, government leaders had inserted previsions into the multiannual budget that would undermine the greening measures originally put forward by the commission.