EPHA joins calls to European Commission President von der Leyen to withdraw the proposal for the new EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Following the latest vote in the European Parliament there is very little left for public health in the current CAP. Tabling a new proposal will be an important opportunity to ensure agricultural policy supports the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, and offers a fresh start to shape a healthy future for food and farming.


To: European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen
Cc. Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans
Berlaymont, Rue de la Loi 200
1000 – Brussels
30 October 2020
REF SBE 020/074

Dear Commission President Von der Leyen,

Re: Withdrawal of the Commission proposal for the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy

We are writing to you to call on the European Commission to withdraw1 its proposal on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in order to safeguard your Commission’s flagship policy, the European Green Deal.

The positions agreed in the European Parliament and Council on the CAP, work against the EU Green Deal (and the associated Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies)2:

  • They allow billions of harmful subsidies, which you have just pledged to phase out in the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and which should have already been phased out by 2020 according to EU’s International commitments3. For example, the positions seriously erode the basic ‘do-no-harm’ baseline (conditionality); increase production (coupled) payments, and remove safeguards such as on irrigation expansion;

  • They limit the climate, environmental, animal welfare and public health ambition, allowing or even requiring Member States to put most of the funds into subsidising business as usual (or potentially worse) practices;

  • They explicitly rule out a link with the objectives of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.

In the crucial decade4 for taking action to avert tipping points for nature and climate, it is impossible to countenance spending €387 billion of taxpayers’ money, a third of the entire EU budget, on driving rather than solving the crisis.

The European Commission kept the 2018 CAP proposal on the provision that the Council and the Parliament would not weaken it. Now that both legislators have substantially watered down the CAP’s green architecture, we do not believe that the trialogue negotiations could fix this situation. The only way to maintain a higher environmental ambition in line with the European Green Deal is to withdraw the proposal presented by the previous Commission and table a new one that is based on supporting farmers in the transition away from industrial agriculture, to a Green Deal-compatible CAP, investing the hundreds of billions available in farming practices that work with nature and within ecological limits, support citizens’ health and wellbeing, and thus safeguard our ability to produce food into the future. The extension of the current CAP by two years makes this possible. Our childrens’ future must come above what is politically expedient.

We look forward to hearing from you and are at your disposal for a meeting to discuss our request.

Yours sincerely,

BeeLife – European Beekeeping Coordination
Biodynamic Federation – Demeter International
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
CambiamoAgricoltura Coalition, Italy
Coalition Living Earth, Poland
Compassion in World Farming
Corporate Europe Observatory
EuroNatur Foundation
EUROPARC Federation
European Environmental Bureau
European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS)
European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
Food & Water Action Europe
Friends of the Earth Europe
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Meng Landwirtschaft Coalition, Luxembourg
Pesticide Action Network Europe
Safe Food Advocacy Europe (SAFE)
Slow Food Europe
Vier Pfoten
Voedsel Anders Nederland
Wetlands International Europe
WWF – European Policy Office
1. The legal basis for withdrawing the CAP Proposal can be identified in Article 293, Paragraph 2, TFEU, and subsequent case law, which establish that, so long as the Council has not acted, the Commission may amend or withdraw a legislative proposal where the amendments planned by the Parliament and the Council distort the proposal in a manner that prevents the achievement of the legal act’s objectives (C-409/2013 para. 41).
2. An analysis shared by scientists https://tinyurl.com/yysm9fq3, experts such as the IEEP https://tinyurl.com/y5t7btnx, and a significant portion of MEPs who opposed the deal on these grounds.
3. Aichi target 3: https://tinyurl.com/y38zuc9o.
4. In 2018 the IPCC estimated that we have 12 years left to prevent catastrophic climate change.
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