CAP Simplification – simply destroying greening?

Vincent Ruin (Chambre d'Agriculture Savoie-Mont Blanc) photo. French competition for flowering meadows.
Photo (c) Vincent Ruin (Chambre d’Agriculture Savoie-Mont Blanc). French flowering meadows.

According to the EU Commission, a first set of specific actions towards CAP simplification have been announced by Commissioner Phil Hogan, on issues related to the guidelines for Direct Payments this year.

Hogan explained: “Some of the proposals which concern direct payments do not require changing the legislative rules, but can be implemented at the level of our current guidelines, and applicable already this year. I intend to follow-up on these proposals by making 6 concrete changes which should facilitate the lives of farmers and national administrations.”

These six changes proposed relate to the EFA-layer (Ecological Focus Area), adjacent EFAs, the LPIS (Land Parcel Identification system) and compensation of EFAs in case of wrong declaration. More specifically, the Commission intends:

  • to accept that Member States, that so wish, only need to map declared EFAs;
  • to allow flexibility as regards the identification of EFA’s in the EFA-layer (concerns hedges or wooded strips and trees in line);
  • to allow hedges or wooded strips with gaps up to 4 metres;
  • as regards the implementation of adjacent EFA, in duly justified cases, to accept a limited buffer between the boundary and the EFA for the Member States which wish so;
  • to accept a simplified approach as regards the identification of some specific types of permanent grassland in the LPIS;
  • to allow that a missing EFA may be compensated by another EFA, even if this EFA has not been declared.

The Council of Ministers too, have been busy pushing the simplification agenda: Ministers “held a policy debate on CAP simplification during a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 16 March 2015. In the debate, ministers discussed issues relating to the recently implemented CAP reform and identified priority areas for simplification. The most important issues highlighted were the ‘greening’ measures and controls. (emphasis in original).

On May 5th the Council stated “flexibility should be applied, consistent with the legal framework, as regards the first year of CAP implementation”. Again, greening in general and EFAs in particular are highlighted as  “short- and medium- term priorities”.

Many Environmental NGOs are worried.  According to Angelo Caserta (BirdLife Europe and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) “in the name of flexibility and subsidiarity, member states asked for derogations and exemptions, leading to a complex policy that is unlikely to deliver on the ground. The very same actors who created this complexity are now begging for simplification, even before policies have started to be properly implemented. One can wonder whether these demands are made in good faith or whether the actual goal is to continue dismantling what little is left in the CAP’s empty green shell.”

ARC2020 have criticised so called simplification recently, in a detailed expose on the array of demands for exceptions, tolerances and deferrals. In particular, The Great CAP Simplification Scam revels the process of watering down EFAs in the months leading up to the final co-called CAP reform – the main focus of simplification – was outlined.

 The Great CAP Simplification Scam also outlines how and why this policy of rolling back the few improvements which  have actually survived the farce of so called CAP Reform would cause citizens to loose even more faith in CAP.

Mainstream agri-business lobby COPA are of course happy that greening is being targeted. And incredibly, many such as the UK’s NFU suggest this simplification plan does not go far enough. Supposedly,  it “lack’s ambition”…”The NFU continues to call for specific changes to the rules to foresee greater tolerances in cases where farmers are close to fulfilling the new requirements, but unfortunately fall short.”

Towards the end of 2015, the Commission is expected to make a presentation at the Council on  simplification.

Simplification. An attractive word with pernicious undertones for rural Europe and its environment.



Arc2020’s Pillar 1 Member State choices

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About Oliver Moore 215 Articles

Dr. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC.

A propos d'Oliver Moore
Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activité professionnelle. Il peut néanmoins admirer par la fenêtre de son bureau les mésanges charbonnières et les corbeaux perchés au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cœur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisés, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant à la communauté. Les jours où il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sèches et les jardins familiaux. 

Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant également des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »). 

Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne également des cours sur le Master en coopératives, agroalimentaire et développement durable à l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large.

Il consacre la majorité de son temps de travail à l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date à laquelle l’Irlande a assuré la présidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est là qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grâce à sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. Après six mois, il est nommé rédacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des médias sociaux, aide à définir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois même rédige un article pour le site web. 

À l’époque où on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, où il a aidé des ONG irlandaises de commerce équitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – à raconter leur histoire.

Il se peut que ces jours-là reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de préférer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. Après tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilités de bénévolat dans la communauté dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.

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