This week, on April 2, 2019, Members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COM AGRI) of the European Parliament voted to define the rules on the Strategic Plans of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). With 27 votes in favour, 17 against and 1 abstention, MEPs approved a text that will shape the future of agricultural development in the EU. However, the result is already dividing opinions among different political groups and raising critics from environmental protection organisations, as the decision has ignored several recommendations from the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (COM ENVI).
In their efforts surrounding the CAP reform, environmental organisations Arche Noah, PAN Europe and BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination are analysing the voting results and will present their joint formal position in the following days. However, there is already one notable aspect of the text that highlights an attempt for the protection of bees and pollinators. It includes a Pollinator Index as a result indicator. This Index has been maintained in the proposed text thanks to the work of environmental protection organisations and the work of the European Commission, distinctly DG Environment, which launched in 2018 its Pollinators Initiative.
See also: Why we Ned Bees as Indicators in the Next Cap - BeeLife
COM ENVI Session Livestream
Political parties have voiced their different interpretations of the results. For rapporteur and member of the European People's Party (EPP), Esther Herranz García, the result has struck a balance between agricultural development and environmental ambitions, as she mentioned during Tuesday’s press conference after the vote .
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE), also expressed its partial approval of the result, as shadow rapporteur Jan Huitema stated "I am very glad that the AGRI Committee wants to move away from general non-efficient measures and rather focusses on targeted schemes that will really deliver when it comes to climate and environmental protection" .
On the other hand, for The Greens European Free Alliance, the adopted text is "a step backwards and a devastating blow to farmers, consumers and the environment. The majority of MEPs in the Agriculture committee are stuck to the environmentally destructive methods of the past, preferring to plough on with intensive, agrochemical-dependent agriculture over the needs of farmers and delicate ecosystems" .
The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats also presented its critics to the results, stating that the adopted text prioritises industrial farming over small sustainable producers. Shadow rapporteur Maria Noichl mentioned even called the attention to the importance of the eco-schemes and the conflicting perspectives within parliament: "We wanted a higher level of funds for the measures which will deliver those public goods - notably the Eco-Schemes, but the EPP and ECR were not interested" .
There are clearly different interpretations for the same text, leaving the discussion on the future of CAP still open. In addition to the statements of political parties, farmer organisations and NGOs also take part in the debate, which will no doubt have an impact on future developments for the agricultural policy.
Following yesterday's vote, the text will now have to be examined by the totality of the European Parliament, but not before upcoming elections on May 23-26. At that time, the president of the parliament and leaders of political groups have two options: to forward the text to the full house for its vote in plenary or to open it to analysis and modifications by the new COM AGRI.