In Germany, state governments and associations have positioned themselves: The Federal Government should work towards improvements to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The federal government is in a dilemma: It is receiving recommendations for action to optimise the CAP from supposedly opposing positions. At the start of the Green Week, farmers protested against ecologically motivated over-regulation. In June 2019, the agriculture ministers of Saxony and Brandenburg had already jointly pointed out the sustainable employment effects especially in structurally weak areas and demanded that these effects be taken into account without restriction in agricultural policy decisions.

On the other hand, experts warn that the new CAP measures cannot achieve the ecological objectives of the Federal Government. Among other things, as is known, the share of organic farming is to grow from the current level of just over 9 percent to 20 percent by 2030. The Federal Environment Agency criticises that the flat-rate payments of area premiums to farmers, which are provided for in the CAP as income support, would miss the opportunity to provide increased incentives for agri-environmental measures. The Federal Environment Agency’s Commission for Agriculture (Kommission Landwirtschaft (KLU)) points out that flat-rate area payments are now, above all, benefiting the large farms: 80 % of the funds flow to 20 % of the farms.

No self-runner for reducing environmental pollution

Even the Scientific Advisory Council for Agricultural Policy, Food and Consumer Health Protection (WBAE), working on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BmEL), does not see the planned CAP as a general self-sustaining measure to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture. By shifting policy-making competencies more to the member states, agricultural policy would rather run the risk that individual member states would use the new freedoms to continue to pursue primarily income policy for the sector.

Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner is aware of this. On the occasion of the reception of the WBAE statement on the future of the CAP, she said that the planned freedoms in the member states should not lead to competition for the lowest standards and called for a minimum standard.

Direct payments indispensable for competitiveness

On one central point, however, she rejected the WBAE. In its opinion, the WBAE had recommended that Germany should use the new national options to gradually reverse the CAP’s income orientation and orientate it consistently towards public welfare objectives, in particular environmental and climate protection as well as animal welfare. For example, minimum budget shares should be set for agri-environmental and climate protection and these should be gradually increased.

Nevertheless, Klöckner emphasised the importance of direct payments for the competitiveness of European agriculture and that the German government would stick to these. According to her ministry, the national co-financing of the first pillar by the federal states proposed by the WBAE was not enforceable in the foreseeable future.