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Environmental and climate assessments of CAP Strategic Plans

Apr 13, 2023 | European Stakeholders

In April 2023 the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) published a briefing that summarises the results of a series of assessments of the climate and environmental ambition of the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plans, based on the detailed study of four Member States (France, Spain, Poland and Germany) with large agricultural sectors and where the potential for addressing national and EU climate and environmental challenges is high

This brief presents common findings on the environmental and climate ambition of the Strategic Plans; includes examples from other Member States and proposes recommendations to improve the environmental and climate contribution of CAP Strategic Plans.

The IEEP analysis suggests that, while the new CAP structure provides more flexibility to Member States to increase the EU’s ambition in terms of sustainability, Member States did not use this opportunity to significantly increase support for environmental and climate action. Consequently, the Strategic Plans analysed appear insufficient to trigger the change in farming systems and practices needed to respond to the climate and biodiversity crises.

Overall, the majority of funding continues to be directed towards economic objectives and there are a number of mismatches between the needs identified and the proposed interventions concerning climate change mitigation and adaptation. Specifically on the environmental ‘green architecture’, Member States have on the whole chosen the easiest options for ‘conditionality’ standards, eco-schemes are likely to have low additional benefits and environmental and climate commitments, although well designed, have small budgets, cover limited areas and are not always well targeted regionally.

Finally, IEEP notes that some interventions continue to support the most intensive practices and farms. 

The brief concludes that Member States can amend their Plans once a year and therefore raise the ambition in the current CAP programming period. In particular, they should: 

a) increase the budget for environmental and climate commitments, eco-schemes and cross-cutting interventions benefitting the climate and environment, this increase could be funded by a decrease in the budgets of basic and coupled income support,

b) strengthen the requirements of eco-schemes and remove or improve less effective options, 

c) increase the level of payment of environmental and climate commitments to increase their attractiveness and uptake, 

d) ensure that these commitments are offered to farmers in regions where they are the most relevant, 

e) link these commitments to improved advice and training support and 

f) implement the necessary safeguards on coupled support, investments and risk management tools to ensure that they are not damaging for the climate, the environment and farms’ resilience.

Read the summary, here.