European Commission proposes simplifications for farmers

uproszczenia dla rolników

The European Commission, in the face of growing discontent in the agricultural community and with the aim of reducing the administrative burden on farmers in the EU, has prepared a legislative proposal to revise certain provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and announced the withdrawal of draft legislation restricting the use of plant protection products. The changes, in line with farmers’ expectations, remove and greatly simplify components of the Green Deal that have been one of the main reasons for protests in recent times.

Common agricultural policy – changes the European Commission wants to make

One of the main simplifications for farmers proposed by the European Commission are changes to certain provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). During the first year of implementation of the current CAP (2023-2027), EU farmers faced difficulties in fully complying with certain environmentally and climate-beneficial arrangements, known as Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition of Land (GAEC) standards.

The European Commission’s legislative proposal, related to CAP conditionality and strategic plans, aims to reduce the burden of controls on EU farmers and give them more flexibility in meeting certain environmental conditions.

The prepared document is the European Commission’s direct response to hundreds of requests from organizations representing farmers and member states. It strikes a balance between the need to maintain the CAP’s role in supporting the transition of European agriculture to a more sustainable one, the expectations of farmers and member states, and the goal of reaching an early agreement between the European Parliament and the European Council.

Withdrawal of draft legislation restricting the use of plant protection products

Another of the changes announced by the European Commission, in response to agricultural protests, is the withdrawal of a draft on regulations restricting the use of plant protection products. A draft regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the sustainable use of fertilizers has been in the pipeline for more than a year and a half, but it has not been possible to reach final agreement among member states on its content. According to a letter from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, it is to be officially phased out by March 31, 2024.

In the view of the Polish agricultural community, the proposed solutions could have a negative impact on food security and the competitiveness of EU and domestic agriculture, as well as lead to increased dependence of the food system on imports. In doing so, the project did not take into account the challenges of climate change, the effects of which increase the risk of the spread of new plant pests and diseases, or events that disrupt supply chains, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Poland uses less active substances in plant protection products per unit area than the average value for the European Union (in Poland in 2021 it was 1.86 kg/ha, while the average for the European Union was 2.21 kg/ha). According to the European Commission, the current situation calls for further dialogue and a change of approach in the development of regulations to limit the use of plant protection products.

The European Commission is taking numerous steps to reduce the use of pesticides and strive to make the use of safer pesticides as widespread as possible, one of which is the publication of a set of good practices in this regard, as we wrote about in a previous Water Matters article.

EC survey on CAP simplification

On March 7, 2024. The European Commission has launched an online survey on procedures and regulations related to financial support under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and other EU food and agriculture legislation. The survey is aimed at farmers.

The responses obtained will be thoroughly analyzed and will be used to develop solutions to simplify processes related to the use of support from the European Union budget. The survey will help identify sources of administrative burden and inconvenience from CAP regulations, as well as other food and agricultural regulations, both in terms of their national application and related registration and reporting obligations. Preliminary results will be presented as early as mid-April.

The survey questionnaire is available on the Commission ‘s website until April 8, 2024.

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