The European Parliament in Strasbourg approved by a large majority the agricultural policy reform. This should lead to EU policies becoming greener, fairer, flexible and open. The goal is to increase support for small farmers and increase biodiversity in agriculture.
MEPs from GroenLinks and Party for the Animals voted against, along with a few dozen green and left-wing supporters. They believe that plans do not go far enough. Other parties, including the SGP, believe the new rules go too far. This makes the proposed policy a compromise.
Agricultural policy, which accounts for a third of the EU budget, has been debated for three years. For the plans to succeed, all EU member states must develop a strategic agricultural plan. The European Commission will check whether each plan meets the criteria.
For example, countries must ensure that predetermined percentages of available subsidies are spent on climate and environmental measures. European income support for farmers will depend on at least 20 per cent and then 25 per cent on the sustainability of the farmers’ business. GroenLinks and Party for the Animals would have liked these percentages to be much higher and now describe them as unambitious.
It also needs to become more clear who is receiving support and how it is being used. Money tampering should be prevented. Inspectors in member states will cooperate more closely to ensure that agreements are respected. To prevent the loss of plant and animal species, farmers have to leave the fallow areas more often.
The European Parliament has also mandated that at least 10% of the available budget goes to small and medium-sized farmers and at least 3% goes to young farmers. As a result, small farmers will soon be able to count on a larger share of subsidies.
There will also be a permanent crisis budget of 450 million euros to help farmers when prices or markets become unstable.
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