EU Agriculture Commissioner acknowledged that the group of European conservatives and farmers with their demonstrations helped change his perception of what the new CAP should be.


Brussels Agriculture Commissioner says farmers’ protests triggered reform of CAP


European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski acknowledged this week that demonstrating farmers changed his perception of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and triggered reforms designed to bring relief.

“I am grateful to the farmers for those protests,” he said.

He was speaking at the Parliament of Castilla y León in Spain during an event sponsored by the Committee of the Regions entitled Defending European Food Sovereignity.

According to Wojciechowski, the new European agricultural system should be based on incentives, not obligations.

During the last European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, a series of amendments were approved to ease burdens on farmers, especially smaller operators.

With the implementation of the CAP (2023-2027), mandatory minimum levels of environmental compliance is required.

One of these rules is the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC), which, along with the Legal Management Requirements (LMR), make up what is known as Reinforced Conditionality.

GAECs are a set of rules that farmers must comply with to receive CAP support.

There are 10 GAECs that cover aspects related to climate, soil protection against erosion, water management, biodiversity maintenance and animal welfare.

The Strasbourg amendments, which had the Commissioner’s support, aim to reform GAECs 6, 7, and 8.

GAEC 6 is designed to ensure soil protection during sensitive periods. Member States will have more flexibility to establish what they define as “sensitive periods”.

GAEC 7 relates to crop rotation on arable land, except for crops under water, according to which all farms are required to rotate relevant crops at least every three years.

GAEC 8 refers to the minimum percentage of agricultural land dedicated to non-productive areas or other “elements”. Farmers are required to leave at least 4 per cent of arable land dedicated to such, including fallow land.

With this reform, farmers will have to maintain what are referred to as existing landscape characteristics on their land.

Farmers operating on less than 10 hectares are exempt from controls and sanctions related to compliance with so-called conditionality requirements – small-farm operators represent 65 per cent of CAP beneficiaries.

Faced with criticism of the Green Deal, Wojciechowski assured that “it was not a mistake” but that he understood “a considerable part of the ‘green’ component of the CAP was impossible” for some farmers to implement.

The Polish Commissioner defended his role in pushing through the CAP overhaul package and providing what he said were safeguards for European Union farmers by extending trade benefits to Ukraine.

He called for long-term transition periods and safety mechanisms to prevent the entry of Ukrainian products from destabilising the EU market, adding that the country would only be able to join the Common Market when “appropriate conditions” are created.

On CAP’s future, he insisted: “We need at least a 50 per cent increase in the budget and a 500 per cent increase in the crisis reserve.”