Uniform European agricultural policy increasingly 'something for every country'

There are major differences in the way the 27 EU countries deal with the new European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). An initial overview by Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski shows that the Member States interpret it in very different ways in their National Strategic Plans (NSPs).

For example, they have put together 250 different eco-schemes to provide farmers with subsidies for all kinds of nature conservation.

The first overview has been compiled on the basis of 19 national plans that have been assessed so far by the European Commission. The rest have arrived, but have not yet been assessed. No countries are mentioned by name in the overview, so that a real comparison of the Dutch situation with other countries is not (yet) possible.

In addition, Russia's war against Ukraine could overturn many of the submitted plans, Wojciechowski said. Many parts of the 2023-2027 CAP will need to be reassessed, but the Green Deal and Farm-to-Fork will not be watered down or revised. 

It can be deduced from the first inventory that there is actually no longer a uniform 'common' European agricultural policy, but national plans that try to achieve the same thing but in different ways.

Most countries spend little or nothing for rural development and, according to Wojciechowski, extra money will have to be taken from the existing cohesion funds.

Commissioner Wojciechowski expressed optimism "that so much is already on paper", but also veiled criticism that "there is still a lot of room for improvement" and "that many countries have yet to provide concrete numbers and figures".

He also regretted that – according to him – so little attention is paid to encouraging young farmers. Little attention is paid to animal welfare and the phased reduction of the number of cages. He said he will address that in his observation letters at the end of this month.

The LNV Commissioner also says that so far little attention has been paid to environmental and nature protection, and that most countries are lagging behind in this regard. When switching to 'more organic' Wojciechowski acknowledged that the starting point differs from country to country and that this will be taken into account. He previously mentioned such a flexible assessment for the Netherlands.

Although several countries protested again, Wojciechowski plans to make all his national assessment letters public so that farmers in all EU countries can see for themselves how the CAP is handled in other EU countries.

The Central European Visegrad countries in particular are still bothersome: they believe that the European Commission is going beyond its legal book in some areas. Moreover, they believe that Brussels has nothing to say about their 'national' plans.

Several countries actually agree to some extent, but do not want to let it come to a confrontation. Wojciechowski said sleepers run the risk of grabbing next to EU subsidies.