Von der Leyen: GLB could be even better; Timmermans: withdraw if necessary


It is not too late to take more account of the Environmental and Climate Policy of the EU Green Deal in the new common European agricultural policy.

This is what President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission says in a letter of reply to the group of the Greens. They believe that the watered-down agricultural policy should be withdrawn altogether.

Von der Leyen regrets that both the European Parliament and the 27 LNV ministers have taken more watered-down positions than the Commission's proposal. On Thursday, the trilogue, the three-party consultation between Parliament, Commission and Council of Ministers, will start in Brussels, in order to arrive at a final joint position.

Von der Leyen says there are still opportunities for improvement and is therefore not considering a withdrawal of the Commission proposal. The Dutch European Commissioner Frans Timmermans explicitly keeps that possibility open, he said recently in an interview with RTL Nieuws.

The Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout thinks it is a shame that Von der Leyen does not want to withdraw the CAP proposal and start all over again. Von der Leyen has already pointed out that the proposal was drawn up in 2018 by the previous Commission, and not by its team. She also says that the Green Deal is not an obstacle but a solution ...

Eickhout is satisfied “that the Commission President agrees with us on the importance of the Green Deal to combat climate change and the loss of biodiversity. It is good to see that she emphasizes that the farm-to-table strategy and biodiversity must be embedded in the new CAP ”, says Eickhout.

If the environmental and climate goals of the Green Deal (the showpiece of the Von der Leyen Commission!) Are not achieved because 'agriculture' is not cooperating sufficiently, Timmermans does not rule out withdrawal. A spokesman for the Commission stressed that it is not yet that far.

According to Timmermans, the farmers need the Green Deal to become a future-proof industry. He points out 'that eighty percent of the million subsidies end up with twenty percent of the farmers. And then they are not even your average farming families, but large landowners and agricultural conglomerates'.

The objections of Von der Leyen and Timmermans focus mainly on the inclusion of a two-year 'trial period' in the new CAP. The center-right and conservative majority of the European Parliament (especially from Eastern European agricultural countries) wants to keep the possibility open to adapt, halt or reverse in the meantime.

Timmermans also does not see it at all that more control and implementation is being transferred to the individual countries (read: the national LNV ministries). So Brussels will soon be able to establish that something is not going well, but it is up to the countries themselves to determine whether they do something about it.

The trilogue negotiations will be conducted in three different sub-committees in the coming weeks. These discussions are held behind closed doors. The agreement is that 'nothing has been agreed until everything has been agreed'. As a result, no interim results can be reported, and it is likely that in mid-December it will eventually become a matter of 'swallow or choke'.

In contrast to previous times, the trilogue negotiations are not led by the Agriculture Commissioner (Wojciechowski), but by Timmermans (ENVI-Climate and Environment) and Stella Kyriakides (EFSA-Food Safety). In the Netherlands, moreover, there is only one Dutch person from the AGRI committee in one of the three negotiating teams: Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP).

In addition, this CAP trilogue is not only done by AGRI members, but there is also a rapporteur from the ENVI Environment Committee as associate member in the main negotiating delegation. As a result, drawing up a new agricultural policy is no longer an 'all-entry point' for the agricultural committee and the well-oiled European agricultural lobby, but the Green Deal watchdog ENVI can still throw a spanner in the works. The ENVI environmental committee consists of six Dutch people, including two vice-chairmen Bas Eickhout (GroenLinks) and Anja Hazenkamp (Party for the Animals).