BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) – WWF, BirdLife International and Friends of the Earth Europe urge EU Agriculture Ministers, meeting today in Brussels for a presentation from Commissioner Fischler on his Mid-Term Review legislative proposals, to reject the Commission’s package in favour of a real reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The three environmental organisations strongly criticise the proposals. “The proposals are a major climb-down from the Commission’s earlier suggestions of a sustainable agricultural policy. Rural development, a policy which most Member States have been publicly supporting over the past three years, has been abandoned”.

Specifically, the NGOs urge the Council to rebalance the reform by:

  •  Reinstating a meaningful budget increase for sustainable rural development. While Heads of State defined limits on the growth of the First Pillar of CAP at the October European Council, no such limit was set for the Second Pillar (Rural Development). Without a meaningful budget increase for the Second Pillar, the switch from intensive to extensive agriculture will be long and difficult for farmers and for the environment.
  • Focussing rural development spending on agri-environment measures. A mere 1 per cent increase in the budget over ten years is far too little and far too slow, particularly considering the range of new measures proposed to support producer organisations and food marketing. This, accompanied by a back-tracking on increasing support for agri-environment seriously undermines sustainable rural development. Agri-environment measures such as organic farming, biodiversity management and production of local varieties should be the core of rural development funding.
  • Defining effective and manageable environmental conditions for subsidies. The proposed ‘Cross-compliance’ is complicated and is selective on environmental parameters (e.g. water is largely ignored). This cannot be sufficient to ensure sustainable farming. Cross compliance should go beyond the current legal standards so taxpayers get environmental added value from CAP.
  • Phasing out export subsidies. The damage to the developing world’s farmers as well as damage to the environment in Europe will continue while export subsidies remain untouched. A deadline should be set to phase out this subsidy for overproduction.


Joanna Dober, Friends of the Earth Europe, European Campaigns Co-ordinator, Phone +32 2 542 0180, email
Elizabeth Guttenstein WWF European Policy Office, Head Agriculture and Rural Development, phone +32 2 740 09 24, email
Edith Verhoestraete BirdLife International, European Community Office, European Agriculture Campaign coordinator, phone +32 2 280 08 30, email
Hannah Bartram, BirdLife International, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer, Phone + 44 1767 683355 ext 2033 mobile + 44 7814 414077, email