The unCAPped potential of the Green Deal

The current set of challenges that we are facing is vast. Although there is one that has put us as a species on a timer, which is the issue of climate change. The EU has made a decisive step forward to combat this, by introducing the European Green Deal, back in 2019. What is particularly interesting about this, is its multifaceted nature of it and how it relates to other laws, regulations and policies, as well as your everyday life.

To start off, one of the headliners and biggest goals set by the Green Deal is that all 27 Member States will be turning the EU into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Since this is quite a tall order, there is a big checkpoint that needs to be passed first, namely to reduce emissions by at least 55% no later than 2030. The Green Deal covers more than solely climate neutrality, other goals are to reduce energy poverty, create more jobs, reduce the need to be dependent on external sources of energy and overall improve the well-being and health of people within EU countries.

The revised version of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027 has been called into life in order to modernise the existing policy. This policy aims to pave the way for a fairer, greener and more performance-based CAP. At first glance, the CAP is meant as a supportive pillar for the Green Deal; the nine common objectives appear to show cohesion between the two pieces of legislation. However, when looking beyond the surface level, the new CAP starts showing its cracks.

While both the CAP and Green Deal have similar objectives, CAP fails to benefit the Green Deal as much as it should. An example here would be the aforementioned Green Deal objective of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2030. CAP wants to incentivise farmers to permanently protect peatlands and grasslands and maintain them since these lands can function well as carbon sinks.

Another point of importance in the revised CAP, is the reduction of pesticides and fertilisers in the agricultural sector. This unfortunately has some loopholes; under the new CAP, farmers would only be able to purchase specific pesticides that are sold by the EU. Member States often ask for a 120-day derogation whenever new legislation enters into force. This means that people in the industry can be eligible for CAP funds, while still using other pesticides purchased beforehand. This shows little incentive for farmers to actually go through with it. Another glaring issue is that CAP overlooks the industrial livestock sector, despite it making up a large part of our food supply.

What this comes down to, is that CAP is actively working against existing EU campaigns, like the Green Deal, while it is touted as a new ally. Member States could do a lot themselves to right this, but the early CAP Strategic plans show that not everyone is ready and willing to put in the effort. This is representative of many Member States’ stances on the matter. If the goals of the Green Deal are to be met by the EU, everyone needs to face this challenge head-on.


Written by Max Tilly 

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