Global Policy Forum

EU Agricultural Reform Misses Opportunity

Photo: Elizabeth Prata

Two German NGOs, Brot für die Welt and WWF Germany, criticize the recent agreement on the reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which provides massive subsidies to large agricultural producers in EU countries. Not only does the reform miss the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in terms of environmental protection, but it also ignores export subsidies, which are a crucial issue for farmers in the global South.


EU Remains Ignorant of the Implications of its Agricultural Policy

According to the German NGOs Brot für die Welt and WWF Germany, the preliminary agreement reached on the reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) remains far behind its formulated goals. In particular, it does not take into account the effect it has on economic development in countries of the global South, given that it leaves out both sustainability as well as justice. “The EU continues to ignore any possible external implications of its agricultural policy”, commented Stig Tanzmann, agricultural expert from Brot für die Welt.

Particularly disappointing is the fact that the EU was not even able to come to an agreement with regard to export subsidies, which have been going on for decades now, but whose cancellation is utterly overdue. The EU’s milk quota will run out in 2015, at which point the EU will receive a lot of calls demanding export subsidies to make up for the lost domestic revenues. Therefore, Tanzman worries that “successful milk producers in developing countries such as Zambia or Kenya will once again have to compete with cheap EU milk, which will marginalize local production.”

The new agreement further fails to account for the damage being done by EU imports, which have equally detrimental implications. The production of soy beans which are imported from South America into the European Union is taking up 30 million hectares of farmland. In turn, this land cannot be used by developing countries themselves in order to provide food security for their populations. Thus, the CAP is also a matter of land grabbing. Moreover, the soy bean imports enable large-scale poultry exports from the EU to African countries, which amount to more than 450,000 tons a year. The new CAP regulations are still lacking a complaint mechanism for producers who are affected by cheap EU exports. However, instead of facing the problems caused by European agricultural policies, the new CAP simply purports a new green look, without changing its old export-oriented nature.

WWF agricultural expert Matthias Meißner from WWF Germany criticized: “If you really want to have more environmental protection in agriculture, you really need to implement effective measures which tackle the problems caused by the agricultural sector.” Even though around one third of subsidies are supposed to be tied to environmental performance, a plethora of exemptions suggest that this mechanism will, on the whole, remain feckless.

The new agreement comes after two years of negotiations between the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament, which deliberated how European agricultural policy could be made more just and sustainable.

See EU Press Statement

See Brot für die Welt Statement (German)

See WWF Germany Statement (German)


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