A leaked copy of draft Commission proposals for the future of EU farm policy was widely circulated online yesterday. It shows that farm Commissioner Phil Hogan is mooting plans that would allow EU countries to drop environmental protection on farms as a priority.

40% of the EU budget is currently spent on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) yet mounting evidence shows that the direct payments system has been a failure for the environment, society and the economy.

Under the new proposals billions of euros in farm subsidies could continue to be dished out with no accountability. Hogan wants to put a new ‘eco-scheme’ in place that would give farmers money for going the extra mile for the environment, yet he is thin on the detail when it comes to how this scheme would be monitored.

Bérénice Dupeux, EEB Policy Officer for Agriculture, said:

Our current farming system is damaging our nature and climate. The clock is ticking until we reach our environmental tipping point yet the Commission dares to suggest a voluntary eco-scheme and to allow EU countries to drop the environment as a priority. Taxpayers can’t keep funding billion-euro farm budgets with no accountability. The only way to ensure that the new farm policy steers farming in Europe away from an environmentally-destructive model is to ring-fence off at least half of the next farm budget for environment and climate protection.”

Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger will publish his proposal for the EU’s next 7-year budget next week on 2 May.

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe, said:

“Unless the EU-budget proposal includes hard ring-fencing of funding for biodiversity and climate action in both pillars, this proposal is likely to fail in addressing the deep ecological crisis in EU farming.”

The final CAP proposals will be published on 29 May and the new farm laws will come into effect across the bloc in 2020.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of EU Policy for BirdLife, said:

“Nature is dying and farmers are locked in a destructive race to the bottom. This proposal hands over billions to national agricultural ministers hoping they would do the right thing, but with little to hold them accountable. The risk is that we’ll get a ‘subsidies free for all’ instead of a green reform.”