The Common Agricultural Policy

The Common Agricultural Policy CAP is the largest subsidy scheme in the EU. It comprises 1/3 of the EU budget. The 50+ Billion euro's of taxpayers money that are spent yearly should strongly encourage the transition to sustainable farming. This would give farmers and citizens a clear vision towards a resilient system with fertile soils, clean water, nice landscapes and abundant production of healthy food. However, this is currently not the case. The CAP lacks a clear vision towards a sustainable future.

In early 2024 the EU Commission made it even worse. They launched proposals to dismantle the little progress on the CAP that were made in recent years. Following farmers protests who rally to have a future for their family farms, the Commission presented a derogation on the application of the standard for Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions of land 8 (GAEC 8). The derogation allows Member States to waive the condition to dedicate at least 4% of arable land at farm level to non-productive areas in order to receive CAP subsidies. This puts an already declining biodiversity in further jeopardy, especially biodiversity linked to farming areas, and exposes agricultural activities to even further risks.

Next the Commission announced it was envisioning a set of initiatives to reduce the administrative burden on farmers. Among those initiatives were a suite of short-term and mid-term measures to
further relax GAEC rules and exempt 65% of the CAP beneficiaries from controls related to compliance with GAECs. The Commission also proposed to eliminate the requirement that farmers must submit individual applications for aerial spraying of pesticides2. This is an incomprehensible move by an institution that is responsible for ensuring long -term food security and health, as well as ensuring that EU funds contribute to achieving the environmental and social sustainability of the CAP.

Read the joint letter we sent together with many other organisations to the EU Commission.


CAP Reform 2018

In 2018 the European Commission started a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform as the current one does not deliver on pesticides. PAN Europe commented that - despite its ambitious title ‘The Future of Food and Farming’- it failed to provide a vision for tomorrow’s agricultural sector in Europe. It also failed to explain what farmers and Member States need to do in the ‘future delivery model’. PAN Europe emphasizes that we urgently need a CAP that encourages the transition towards low impact farming and urges Member States to seriously uptake good agronomic practices across Europe and stimulate organic farming.

Pan Europe's work on the CAP in 2018 focused on the Regulation (EC) 1305/2013 on Rural Development of the CAP, the Regulation (EC) 1306/2013 on Horizontal issues such as funding and controls of the CAP and the Regulation (EC) 1307/2013 on Direct payments for farmers of the CAP.


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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.