In June 2018, the European Commission published the legislative proposals for the CAP post 2020. The proposals recognise the role agriculture has to play in helping member states achieve their environmental and climate change targets. In this context, a significant feature of the proposals is the increased environmental ambition for the CAP post 2020. The new CAP reform proposals require member states to set out their approach on environmental issues in the new CAP strategic plans.
There are a number of new approaches to addressing environmental issues through the CAP including: three of the nine key objectives set for the CAP post 2020 concern the environment; the ex ante assessment for the plan must incorporate a strategic environmental assessment; the proposals include greater environmental conditionality on EU payments with links to requirements such as the water framework directive and proposals for mandatory nutrition management plans; 40% of the overall CAP budget must contribute to climate mainstreaming; member states must make schemes available as part of the direct payments that provide additional supports for eco schemes which go beyond the increased statutory management requirements and good agricultural and environmental conditions; nationally, 30% of the rural development programme expenditure, excluding payments for areas of natural constraints, must be focused on biodiversity-environment-climate related measures; and non-compliance with statutory management requirements and standards for good agricultural and environmental conditions of land in the areas of climate and environmental health, public health, animal health, plant health and animal welfare will require an administrative penalty.
Detailed proposals for new good agricultural and environmental conditions and statutory management requirements were included as part of the draft regulations published by the Commission last June, and I have arranged that the detailed list to be forwarded directly to the Deputy. There are ten good agricultural and environmental conditions, GAECs, covering a range of issues, including permanent grassland, protection of wetland and peatland, and nutrient management plans. There are 16 proposed statutory management requirements. These concern compliance with a number of directives, including the water framework directive, the nitrates directive, and the directive on the conservation of wild birds.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I firmly support the principle that there must be a high level of environmental ambition in the CAP post 2020. I believe that protecting the environment and the sustainable development of agriculture go hand in hand. However, it is essential that the new environmental conditionality is implemented effectively, with common standards that are relevant and effective.
In addition, I believe that farmers play a vital role in the provision of public goods and need to be adequately recognised and recompensed for this role. It is important that the overall level of the budget acknowledges the public goods being delivered from farmers. This places a particular focus on environmental aspects of CAP.