Talks about European agricultural reforms broken off

The European Parliament and the member states have broken off negotiations on a € 380 billion agricultural reform. The MPs do not want to simply approve of the proposals of the federal states, the agriculture ministers feel blackmailed.

Greenpeace activists demonstrate on Wednesday in front of the European Parliament, where an EU Council meeting on EU agricultural reform is taking place

AEverything happened very quickly on Friday. At 9 a.m., the chief negotiators of the European Parliament and the member states met to continue discussing the future of EU agricultural policy. But there was no debate. The Portuguese EU Council Presidency only briefly informed the surprised MPs that it had no mandate for a new offer and broke off the negotiations that had been going on since Tuesday. According to the will of the Portuguese, whose presidency ends in June, there should be another attempt next month. It is still uncertain whether Parliament will respond.

As long as the member states assumed that the EU Parliament would have to approve their proposals, that made little sense, said the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Norbert Lins. “The Council of Ministers was downright surprised that we didn’t just say yes to everything.” The CDU MP Peter Jahr, who was involved in the negotiations, made a similar statement. “A compromise was possible, but then suddenly the Portuguese wrote things in the small print that put everything into question again.”

“Hurry up”

Above all, however, there was no negotiation, actually both sides had only exchanged papers for days, it is said in parliament. Conversely, the Council of Ministers is accused of wanting to blackmail the states because the time is running out. “Our farmers need clarity very quickly. Hurry, ”said Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU). The new rules for agricultural policy should come into force in 2023.

However, the states have to prepare for this and that takes time. The federal government has already introduced a law that is to be adapted as soon as an EU compromise has been reached. It is about a total of 380 billion euros, around a third of the EU budget from 2021 to 2027. The main controversial issue between Parliament and the Council of Ministers was the proportion of agricultural aid that is to be reserved for environmental and climate protection requirements. Parliament wants to reserve 30 percent of the aid that goes to farmers for so-called eco-schemes. The member states were in favor of 20 percent.

“Which should actually lead to a compromise at 25 percent,” said Jahr. However, the EU states also wanted to ensure that the eco-schemes are voluntary in the first two years. In any case, the farmers would have got all the money from Brussels, even if they hadn’t participated. All of the compromise offers made by the Portuguese resulted in a share of well below 25 percent. Klöckner, who, as the German EU Council President, negotiated the line of states in the autumn, had slowed down strongly, it said. “Instead of intervening in any form, they strengthened the Portuguese presidency in their backward policy and fell behind their positions represented in Germany,” criticized the Green Martin Häusling.