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MEPs fail the environment in crucial CAP vote

The EU parliament let down the countryside yesterday (Wednesday March 13) by voting through weak proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

MEPs in Strasbourg ignored more than a million emails from members of the public who urged them to reform the Common Agricultural Policy so that it delivers for the environment and farming.

During an EU Parliament debate on reforming the CAP this week MEPs voted to reduce the amount of land farmers would have to manage for environmental benefit. They also showed support for removing financial penalties for farmers convicted of breaking environmental laws.

Across Europe more than a million emails were sent to MEPs by concerned members of the public as part of an online campaign calling on them to push for meaningful changes to the CAP to ensure agricultural subsidies support wildlife friendly farming. In the UK MEPs received nearly 120,000 emails.

Jenna Hegarty, RSPB CAP campaigner, said: “People across Europe have called on MEPs to push for a CAP that works for the environment, consumers and wildlife friendly farmers. But that call has been ignored.

“The original proposal to have a minimum of seven per cent of farmland in Environmental Focus Areas has been watered down to just three per cent – this is not enough if we really want to restore the health of Europe’s countryside or the wildlife within it.

“Currently farmers who pollute waterways, damage habitats and disturb threatened wildlife can have their subsidies taken away – but MEPs yesterday voted to overturn most of these rules.

“There was also a lack of support for financial measures to help High Nature Value farmers, those individuals like some of our upland farmers and Scottish crofters who provide vital management for wildlife but get a really poor deal from the CAP.

“Today’s vote paints a picture of an EU parliament which has not listened to the concerns of taxpayers, and has not got to grips with the challenge of changing the way our countryside is managed so that both people and nature benefit.”

Next week the UK government’s chief CAP negotiator, Defra Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, will meet with his counterparts across the EU to try to finalise their CAP negotiating position before a final deal is thrashed out before the end of the summer. The RSPB believes it is vital that his positive position on CAP stays firm on all of these issues to prevent further greenwash and achieve real environmental improvements in the UK and across Europe.

The new reformed CAP will come into force in 2015.


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