The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the EU's oldest and financially most important policy areas. It originally supported farmers by providing price guarantees for their products. From the mid-1980s until reform in 2003, the CAP was on a clear reform path. Supported prices were replaced by direct payments, which were meant to have a less distorting effect on the market and would not be dependent on the production of a particular animal or plant. At the same time, a more target-oriented rural development policy was established in the form of the so-called ‘second pillar’ of agricultural policy. Since then, however, the development of the CAP has stagnated. Subsequent reforms have been minor, concealing the lack of content with a lot of ‘cosmetics’.
Approximately 70 percent of the budget is still paid out in the form of ‘direct payments’ – flat-rate payments linked to farm size that do not serve any of the defined targets of agricultural policy. Since large farms receive more, this cannot be justified in terms of income distribution. Nor are the payments consistently related to the reduction of damage to the environment or to positive environmental performance. The challenge of the CAP reform is therefore to dedicate funds to improve animal welfare, environmental conservation and climate protection.
Our calls and actions
The EPO is lobbying for the revision of EU agricultural policy to provide important financial and innovation incentives with the goal of improving animal welfare. These include:
- the reallocation of funds from the first to the second pillar of EU agricultural policy
- changes in the conditions for animal welfare payments under the second pillar
- the introduction of an option for animal welfare payments under the first pillar of the CAP.