New European agricultural policy will be put on track in the coming weeks

It could become clear within a few weeks whether the Green Deal and European Climate Policy will be slowed down. There is no need to wait eight months for the results of the European elections in June 2024.

But the contours of a different European agricultural policy are not only determined by the Green Deal, Environment and Climate. At the start of the European election campaign, there are already at least eight issues that could provide guidance for future EU agriculture.

The first consideration is the appointment of Dutch Minister Wopke Hoekstra as the new Climate Commissioner. He still has a 'tough' job interview ahead of him in Strasbourg, probably in October, probably with the European Parliament's envi-environment committee.

If he is found wanting, this can be interpreted as a signal that the European Parliament wants to stick to Frans Timmermans' 'green' Climate Course. If European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agrees, she can make this known as early as next Wednesday in her annual 'State of the Union' speech.

Von der Leyen is under pressure from her own Christian Democrats who want less Green Deal and Environment and more Agriculture and Countryside. It is most likely that Von der Leyen does not want to burn her fingers, or she could opt for a 'flight forward'.

Quite apart from this, it remains to be seen whether Brussels politics will be able to calm the conflict between (Polish) Agriculture Commissioner Janus Wojciechowski and the other 26 commissioners. He has his own strategy when it comes to the export of Ukrainian grain to EU ports. That argument within Von der Leyen's commissioners team could well become a matter of bending or breaking.

Moreover, a week later (September 19) Von der Leyen must give a speech “about the future of agriculture” at an EPP conference in her 'own' German state of Bavaria. Regional elections will be held in the generally conservative southern German state on October 8.

The result could be a signal to what extent a righter, more agrarian course will lead to the return of runaway CDU/CSU voters. According to opinion polls, there would be a rightward shift in EU countries, but this recently turned out not to be the case in Spain.

A week later (October 15), parliamentary elections will be held in Poland, which will also focus almost entirely on rural areas and agriculture. There too, the question is whether disappointed rural residents and farmers will 'return' to the conservative-nationalist PiS coalition. The Ukrainian grain issue, a threatened border blockade and the rebellious EU Commissioner Wojciechowski are the fuses in the powder keg. 

And a few weeks later (November 22), parliamentary elections will be held in the Netherlands. There too, the question is (partly) whether CDA members who have run away will return, or whether voters who have dropped out will seek refuge in new parties and new politicians. Now, the results of elections in Bavaria, Poland or the Netherlands will not really be decisive for EU policy, but they are a possible indicator.

Much more decisive is the question of whether agricultural superpower Ukraine will be admitted to the European Union. Negotiations on this will start on December 16. Ten countries are nominated for EU membership; some have been kept in line for years.

The EU countries will soon have to decide whether the EU should first put its own house in order. That had already been more or less agreed upon after the British 'walked away'. If the EU gives Ukraine priority access on an accelerated basis, this will undoubtedly have consequences for the common land policy, regardless...