Environmental Committee Gives Valentine’s Day Gift to Nature

Photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 European Parliament building Strasbourg

Today (14th February) a vote was held in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. For the first time, the Environment Committee (ENVI) had some shared powers (‘competencies’) with the Agriculture committee (AGRI). Voting to dedicate E15 billion for biodiversity, while also moving subsidies away from intensive ‘factory’ farms are two of the main takeaways. However the story is not complete as of yet. 

This Environment Committee vote was the first in a series in the Parliament on the European Commission’s proposal for reform of the CAP from 2021 on. MEPs on the environment Committee adopted the opinion of  Giovanni La Via by 42 votes to 14, with  2 abstentions. A vote in the Agriculture Committee will follow in early March, and a plenary vote, involving all MEPS, is set to be held sometime in April.

Environmental NGOs expressed cautious optimism at the outcome of the vote. We’ll have more reaction and analysis soon.

Birdlife Europe reaction

“The ENVI Committee (COMENVI) has voted to ring-fence a significant EUR 15 billion of the EU’s farm subsidies to support farmers in restoring nature. This represents a huge improvement on the Commission’s proposal. It is indeed encouraging to see this solid financial commitment to a significant increase in essential spending to save nature and reform subsidized agriculture. The Parliament as a whole must endorse this approach.

Perverse subsidies have been partially addressed. COMENVI voted to make all subsidies conditional on increasing dedicated farm space protecting nature and water and regulating the use of pesticides, as well as excluding the very destructive subsidies which have enabled intensive livestock production in factory farms.”

European Environmental Bureau

“MEPs championed amendments on maximum livestock density, but they fell short of addressing the extent of the current environmental and economic crisis in the agricultural sector.”

Greenpeace EU

“The European Parliament’s environment committee has voted to increase environmental and animal welfare protections under the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), but the improvements are not yet sufficient to tackle the problem of factory farming,” said Greenpeace.

The organisation adds: “MEPs voted to restrict funding for livestock farms that exceed a certain ‘stocking density’, to set targets to reduce overall stocking density and for new rules saying that farm animals must be able to lie down, stand up, extend their limbs and turn around. The committee also voted to block national subsidies for large livestock facilities not respecting basic animal welfare principles.”

For more context on how it came to pass that ENVI achieved some shared powers, see below (in chronological order)

CAP | Will Environment Committee Flex its New Found Muscles?

Environment Committee Gains Right to Bring CAP Amendments to Plenary

CAP | Will Some Power be Wrestled away from Agri Committee this week?

Vested Interests Fight to Keep Control of Agriculture Reform