RSPB slams CAP reform plans as ‘greenwash’

Plans to reform the Common Agricultural Policy fail to support the environment or give farmers an understanding of their role, the RSPB has said.

The organisation slammed proposed changes to the CAP as a “greenwash”, as they suggested cuts to targeted environmental schemes which helped farmland bird species.

The proposals, which were leaked in Brussels last week ahead of their formal publication in October, set out plans to ‘green’ the direct support (Pillar 1) element of the CAP by forcing farmers to set aside 7% of farmland or face only being able to claim for 70% of the payment.

But the RSPB said the measure would not be positive if it came at the expense of agri-environment schemes.

“These proposals fail to deliver on the promise to justify the CAP budget at a time of great pressure on resources,” said Gareth Morgan, RSPB head of countryside conservation.

“They also fail to give a clear signal to Europe’s farmers about their long-term role. This latest leak reveal that under the new CAP more farmland will be managed with the environment in mind, which will help to ensure our farmed landscape can continue to provide services like healthy soils, clean water and the insects that pollinate our crops.

“However, threatened farmland bird species like stone curlew and cirl bunting rely on targeted measures put in place by farmers with the support of CAP money – and that funding is still set to fall under these proposals.

“Greening the direct payment element of the CAP is welcome, but if it comes at the expense of agri-environment funding then that will be a real own goal for the commission.”

Mr Morgan said the RSPB had been campaigning on CAP reform and 13,000 members of the public – including 11,000 from the UK – had contacted EU commissioners to express their concerns about the finding.

“Europe spends billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money supporting farming through the CAP and those taxpayers want reassurances that it is going to be spent responsibly,” he said.

“Instead, the commission offers us greenwash – a few measures that might do some good, but not the fundamental reform that is needed.”



CAP special