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Upping the ambition level of CAP environmental and climate objectives

Publication date 18.11.2019 10.26
Photo: Sera Martikainen, Prime Minister's Office, Finland

Since the Commission communication and the adoption of the legislative proposals, one thing has been made clear as regards the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform: improving the state of the environment and responding to climate change are key objectives. The Commission’s proposal for the post-2020 CAP addresses global challenges such as the loss of biodiversity and the increasing rate of climate change. During the negotiations on the reform, all member states have stressed the importance of the objectives.

The negotiations have clearly revealed that the best practices vary according to national circumstances. A number of member states have emphasised that this variation should be taken into account when agreeing on future measures and that member states should be given flexibility in their own strategic plans when choosing measures.

It is also easier to get a stronger commitment from farmers if the measures are found to be practical and suitable for local conditions. The need to simplify agricultural policy from the perspective of both administration and farmers and to ensure adequate funding for the measures has also been emphasised.

Making it easier for farmers to commit to environmental actions

In order to meet the needs that have been identified, the Finnish Presidency has further developed the Commission’s legislative proposals with a view to making the environmental and climate sections of the regulation simpler and easier to apply. This could promote farmers’ opportunities to commit to improving the state of the environment.

For example, Finland has proposed amendments to the definition of what an eligible hectare is, to the duration of commitments and to the eco-scheme payments. Finland has also proposed a joint consideration of CAP Pillars 1 and 2 in environmental and climate actions. According to the proposal, a common target level would be set at EU level, for example a certain percentage of the total CAP funding of each member state, which would then be allocated to environmental and climate actions under the new strategic plan.

The member states would also jointly decide the measures to be adopted to achieve this objective. Each member state could decide which of the measures would be the most appropriate way for them to achieve the common objective. The premise for setting a common objective would be to go beyond the current level, that is, to increase environmental and climate ambition at EU level.

Clearer common environmental and climate objective for agricultural policy

Finland’s proposal would create a clearer common environmental and climate objective for the CAP as a whole. The Commission’s original regulation proposal defined a minimum percentage only for environmental and climate actions under Pillar 2. Finland’s proposal would also provide member states with greater flexibility in selecting measures that are suitable for local conditions.

The proposal has been discussed provisionally at working group level and has been welcomed by many member states. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council will discuss the proposal on Monday 18 November. Based on the discussion, it will be assessed whether the member states consider the proposed approach worth pursuing.

Kari Valonen, Senior Specialist, Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU