NGOs call for the urgent revision of eco-schemes to transition away from destructive farming practices and incentivise the restoration of biodiversity and nature.
An expert assessment conducted by BirdLife Europe, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the WWF European Policy Office has concluded that the majority of draft eco-schemes included in the Common Agricultural Policy strategic plans of 21 EU Member States are unlikely to deliver on the animal welfare, climate and environmental objectives of the European Green Deal.
Entitled “Will CAP eco-schemes be worth their name?”, the assessment found that out of the 166 draft eco-schemes evaluated, only 19% are likely to deliver on their stated environmental objectives, 40% need significant improvements to be effective, and 41% are completely misaligned with the Green Deal objectives.
Even the few eco-schemes assessed as well-designed, for example by planning for space for nature on farms, were deemed to be at risk of being underfunded or overlooked due to the danger of priority being allocated to less demanding and more financially attractive schemes.
Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe said:
“We know what the problem is, and we know what the solution is. Intensive farming practices are annihilating nature, and to allow biodiversity to recover, we must dedicate 10% of all farmlands across Europe to nature. The eco-schemes have the potential to lead us down this path, but as it stands it appears that they will mostly lead us to more greenwashing, more destruction and more problems.”
Although the draft national CAP Plans are subject to further changes before their formal submission to the Commission at the end of 2021, they serve as a good indication of how €48.5 billion of EU funding will be spent in the post-2022 CAP.
In light of these findings, the EEB urges the Member States to revise their eco-schemes and show more commitment to carrying out the necessary reforms. At the same time, the European Commission must critically review the draft eco-schemes and propose improvements that would make the eco-schemes worthy of their name.
Célia Nyssens, Policy Officer for Agriculture, European Environmental Bureau, said:
“To keep 1.5° alive, the new CAP would need to incentivise a large-scale transition to agroecology, the restoration of degraded peatlands used in agriculture, and strong reductions in the number of farmed animals. The eco-schemes represent the largest pot of money the EU has to drive these changes, but as they stand, they will not deliver on any of these priorities. Everyone loses from Member States’ business-as-usual approach. They need to urgently fix eco-schemes.”
The assessment examined how national draft CAP strategic plans are set to deliver on seven areas seen as key to the success of the European Green Deal. The results were translated into ‘traffic light’ visuals that illustrated how what has been decided at the Member State level is not aligned with the correct direction for the new CAP.
The assessment was based upon the draft CAP strategic plans and information that was available as of mid-November 2021.