Greening agricultural payments in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy

Alan Matthews


Environmental objectives have become increasingly integrated into the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) since the mid-1980s. Integration has been pur- sued through the attachment of environmental conditions to the receipt of direct payments in Pillar 1 (cross compliance) and the use of voluntary agri-environment measures in Pillar 2. In formulating its proposals for the revision of the CAP post-2013, the Commission opted to pursue further integration largely through Pillar 1 through the introduction of a ‘green’ payment for farmers following a specified set of mandatory farm practices. The legislative process was not concluded in February 2013, but enough is known of the positions of the Council and the European Parliament to indicate that the level of greening ambition in this CAP reform will be very limited. Some explanations for the apparent failure to significantly reshape the CAP to tackle the problems faced by the natural environment are reviewed. It is suggested that, far from being complementary, cross compliance and voluntary agri-environment meas- ures are competing approaches to further greening of the CAP. Advocates of a greater focus on environmental objectives need to choose between these approaches.


CAP post-2013; greening; cross compliance; Pillar 1

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