Party for the Animals urges European Parli­ament: reject destructive new agri­cul­tural policy

22 November 2021

This week, the European Parliament will vote on some 270 billion Euros in European agricultural subsidies that are part of the Common Agricultural Policy. MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Dutch Party for the Animals has, together with other MEPs, submitted a proposal to reject these plans. "This agricultural policy is virtually a blank cheque to continue to subsidise environmentally harmful and animal-unfriendly practices such as intensive livestock farming and monocultures. It undermines ambitions with regards nature, the environment, climate, and animal welfare. If Europe is serious about animal welfare and tackling biodiversity loss and climate change, it should not pump billions into destructive agricultural activities," Hazekamp said.

MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Dutch Party for the Animals at a protest against the European agricultural policy.

During a debrief of the climate summit in Glasgow COP26 in the European Parliament last week, MEP Anja Hazekamp announced that she would submit a proposal for rejection to get the European subsidies for harmful agriculture, worth billions, off the table. "The agricultural budget for 2023-2027 contains a lot of money, but very few sustainability guarantees. (...) This law has too many loopholes; if this agricultural policy is adopted, the subsidising of harmful activities will continue," Hazekamp said.

Negotiations about the new proposals for the European Common Agricultural Policy took three years. Last year, the Party for the Animals already opposed the plans to spend billions on agricultural subsidies, at the time contrary to a majority of the European Parliament. Now that the negotiations have been concluded, the result is still extremely weak according to the Party for the Animals.

No subsidies for upscaling, monoculture, and bullfighting

Between 2021 and 2027, around 54 billion Euros of EU taxpayers' money will be spent on agricultural subsidies annually. From which, according to the current plans, intensive agriculture and livestock farming will mainly benefit. Mega barns and large-scale arable farming, where a lot of fertilizer and pesticides are used, are still eligible for subsidies. Most of the money continues to go to the largest agribusinesses, which further stimulates upscaling and puts family businesses under increasing pressure.

This way, agricultural policy promotes an intensive agricultural system that directly leads to biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and unacceptable violations of animal welfare. All whilst it has been scientifically proven that the transition to a sustainable food system is crucial to limit further global warming, the extinction of species, and the emergence of new pandemics.

Even the condition to no longer allow subsidies for the breeding of fighting bulls - a demand made by the European Parliament in response to an amendment by the Party for the Animals and the Greens - has been removed from the agreement by the EU member states. As a result, countries would still be allowed to subsidise bullfights with EU money.

Weak conditions, hardly any obligations
"Instead of making clearer demands so that subsidies end up where they should, European agricultural policy remains far from watertight. There are hardly any obligations for EU countries to start greenifying their agriculture – the options are mainly voluntary. The so-called Strategic Plans that EU countries must submit to claim the billions in agricultural subsidies do not lead to a much-needed sustainable agriculture," says Hazekamp. This is confirmed by analyses by, among others, environmental organisation BirdLife International and Organics Europe, the international umbrella organisation of organic farming organisations.

The conditions imposed on basic subsidies provided per hectare of land are weak and not enough to guarantee sustainability and prevent biodiversity loss. As the European Court of Auditors concluded this year, the 100 billion Euros in 'sustainability subsidies' paid out to agriculture have had little impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Sign - #VoteThisCAPDown!

Video message to MEPs from the grassroots campaign organisation Withdraw This Cap:

"A transition to a fair, healthy food system that is friendly to both animals and the environment is essential to address the global climate and biodiversity crisis. Agricultural policy must be aimed at actually initiating this transition," Hazekamp argues. That is exactly the message of the many protesters last Friday during the demonstrations by BirdLife, Friends of the Earth Europe, Withdraw this Cap, Extinction Rebellion and others in front of the European Parliament and online using the hashtag #VoteThisCAPDown.

Help to convince a majority of the European Parliament and sign this petition by WeMoveEurope, Withdraw this Cap and BirdLife International today! On Tuesday 23 November, the entire European Parliament will vote on the Party for the Animals’ proposal for rejection. If adopted, the agreement on the common agricultural policy for 2023-2027 will be off the table for good and the European Commission will have to come up with a new proposal that will guarantee a truly sustainable, healthy, and fair food policy.