Tired traditions of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy

Madeleine Rojahn argues that the EU’s progress towards emissions reduction is being hindered by taboos and political complacency 

Bureaucracy, taboos and political complacency – these, rather than intention, are the problems with Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Politicians continue to dawdle in precision farming, manure management, and other gobbledegook, but perhaps they’re missing a point. Is a strong grip on tradition hindering the achievements of climate change mitigation efforts? 

Late last year, the European Commission launched its communication paper on CAP reform, stating a focus on implementing new farming technologies and giving more power to individual member states. It notes that tackling emissions requires diversity in strategies, suitable for the diversity in needs of the EU’s 12 million farmers.  

Agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan has described the challenges facing farmers today as “immense”. In his speech at the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, he said: “They are asked to produce more and better food while using fewer inputs; they are tasked with reducing their environmental footprint; they are expected to meet evolving consumer demands; and they are expected to cope with climate change and volatile global markets.”

Currently, 40% of the EU’s entire budget is spent on the CAP. If the policy is done right, it has the potential to be pivotal in reducing ...

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