150 Civil society groups call for reform of European agricultural policies

group of seedling growing from the park

Over 150 European civil society organisations representing environmental and social justice networks, organic farmers, pastoralists, peasants, sustainable forestry groups, health groups, animal welfare organisations, consumer rights bodies, development, fair-trade, cultural heritage and rural development organisations, consumer co-operatives, sustainable tourism and crafts associations from 25 EU countries have today called on EU leaders to carry out a radical reform of the CAP and related policies.

The call comes as agricultural ministers meet in Brussels [1] to discuss future reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and also in light of the public consultation [2] launched by the European Commission on the future of the policy.

In a common statement titled ‘Good Food, Good Farming – Now’ [3] the signatories state that the current food and farming system is no longer functioning, since it props up the agro-industrial status quo, and call for a fundamental reform of Europe’s broken agricultural policy. [4] Such a reform is urgently needed to enable a transition towards a food and farming system which supports fair and diverse food and farming economies, is underpinned by viable alternatives such as organic and agro-ecological farming, and which respects the environment and animal welfare, supports citizens’ health, and is publicly accountable.

EEB Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, Faustine Bas-Defossez, said:

“We can no longer afford to pour over €55 billion of taxpayers’ money every year into a policy which is driving the depletion of the precious natural resources farmers rely on to produce our food. Before negotiations on the future EU budget begin next year, Agriculture Ministers must discuss exactly what the CAP budget will deliver for people and how – before they start wrangling over the amount. For these discussions to be relevant and given that farming is intrinsically linked to nature, Environment Ministers should also have a seat at the negotiation table.”

Bas-Defossez continued:

“While a large part of civil society has called for a radical reform of the CAP, at the same time MEPs on Parliament’s Agriculture committee are trying to water down even further [5] what has become meaningless in the policy and Agriculture Ministers prefer to discuss the CAP behind closed doors. Not only is it high time for radical change to this policy to ensure it delivers for farmers, people, and the environment, but it is also essential to change the policy’s governance. This means involving MEPs from Parliament’s Environment committee and making Council discussions transparent.”

Notes to editors:

[1] Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Agenda, 6 March 2017

[2] The European Commission’s Public Consultation on ‘Modernising and Simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)’ began on 2 February and is open until the 2 May 2017.

[3] Full statement

[4] Some problems with the food and farming system in the EU

  • Farms are disappearing at an alarming rate: 1 out of every 4 EU farms have vanished between 2003 and 2013.
    Globally, more than 90% of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields and 75% of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and 5 animal species (FAO (2004): Building on Gender, Agrobiodiversity and Local Knowledge ).
  • Europe’s land footprint totals 269 million hectares – with 40% of this used outside of Europe – an area almost the size of France and Italy combined (Fischer G., S. Tramberend, M. Bruckner and M. Lieber, forthcoming. Quantifying the land footprint of Germany and the EU using a hybrid accounting model. Dessau: German Federal Environment Agency).
  • 20% of the food produced in the EU (88 million tonnes) is wasted annually, while 43 million EU citizens (8.5%) are not able to afford a quality meal every second day.
  • High levels of antibiotic use in animal farming contributes to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which could evolve into a global crisis killing some 10 million people annually by 2050.
    In 2014, almost 400,000 tonnes of pesticides (active ingredients) were sold in the EU, showing an increase compared to the three previous years, according to Eurostat.
  • Agriculture currently represents approximately 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions.
    Emissions from livestock, such as ammonia, significantly contribute to air pollution and are responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the EU annually according to the European Environment Agency

[5] Draft Opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for the Committee on Budgets (20.2.2017)


Statement on the reform of European agricultural policies

For more information:

Emily Macintosh, Communications Officer, European Environmental Bureau


+32 2 274 10 86

150 Civil society groups call for reform of European agricultural policies
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