The European Commission has finally approved the CAP strategic plans of the first seven EU countries: Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
Brussels calls these first approvals from a few large agricultural EU countries an important step towards the implementation of a new common agricultural policy, starting next year.
For the period 2023-2027, €270 billion is available for agricultural payments. Together, the seven approved plans account for almost half of that (€120 billion), of which more than €34 billion is solely for environmental and climate objectives.
As part of that new agricultural policy, the EU countries are now allowed to determine a package of eligible measures themselves, provided that they only contribute to ten EU criteria for sustainable agriculture. They must, however, lay down this contractually in national plans.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said this approval comes at a crucial time. According to him, European agriculture is in a difficult situation: the Russian war in Ukraine and the summer drought have led to a sharp increase in production costs. European farmers need a long-term perspective, including a clear legal and financial framework, Wojciechowski emphasized.
However, he could not yet say how advanced the negotiations are with the other twenty EU member states. Of the seven now approved NSPs, five of them were actually already known in June that Brussels had agreed. At the last minute, only Italy and Ireland have been added. All other countries have actually been known from May/June that they were not going to meet the August 1 deadline, and neither are September or October.
Several Central European countries started submitting their plans much too late, because they really didn't want the European Commission to have any say in them at all.
Negotiations over Germany's plans are largely stalled because the German traffic light coalition has yet to agree on financing a major modernization of agriculture and livestock. Moreover, in Germany there is still a struggle for competences at regional or national level.
The approval of the Dutch NSP is delayed because there is 'interconnection with other dossiers', as it is euphemistically formulated. It is not yet clear whether it is Brussels or The Hague that links LNV files. Although nowhere formally confirmed, it is abundantly clear that the large amounts of Dutch manure and nitrogen are the major stumbling block for the agricultural department in Brussels.
The Nitrate Committee of the EU will make a decision on 15 September on the Dutch request for an extension of the broader rules for spreading manure. The European Commission is expected to make the final decision the same Wednesday, or a week later. This will then still have to be incorporated in the NSP agreements that will then take effect on 1 January 2023.