Greens call for restructuring of EU agricultural subsidies

Before the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers in the coming week, the Greens spoke out in favor of radically restructuring support for European agriculture.

In a position paper reported by the newspapers of the Funke media group (Sunday editions), party leader Robert Habeck and the parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter propose the model of a so-called public welfare premium, which is intended to replace the previous area payments. The system change should take place in several stages and be completed in 2031.

"It is high time to fundamentally reform the European agricultural system," Habeck told the Funke newspapers. "Specifically, this means making environmental, climate and animal protection an integral part of the funding." The agricultural budget, the largest item in the EU budget to date, offers "a powerful lever to invest billions of taxes in sustainability". Hofreiter accused Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) of blocking a reform of the common agricultural policy.

This is gambling away the future of many farmers. So far, a 50-hectare farm has received 14.000 euros and a 5.000-hectare farm 1,5 million euros - regardless of what services the farmers provide for environmental, nature and climate protection, it says in the paper. In the future, those farmers who did the most for society should receive the most subsidies. "With a public good we want to reward the farmers for the goods for which the market has not yet known a price."

Every year in the EU around 64 billion euros would be spent on promoting agriculture and rural areas - of which around 6,7 billion in Germany, the Greens calculate. "If the billion-dollar subsidies are not distributed more fairly and more ecologically, there is a risk of further bankruptcies and ecological crises." The reform proposals by the Commission and the Council on the common agricultural policy are inadequate, the authors of the paper criticize. And Agriculture Minister Klöckner is using the German Council Presidency to further weaken the proposals from Brussels and prevent a change of course.

The Greens specifically name the goals on which the funding should be based: the protection of biodiversity, the environment and the climate, as well as animal welfare, appropriate and fair prices for agricultural products for producers and consumers, the production of high-quality, healthy food, maintaining a diverse agricultural structure and sustainable development of rural areas. The authors make it clear to the paper that farmers should continue to be allowed to produce agricultural goods without additional ecological benefits. Then, however, they would have to forego subsidies. In addition, the farmers would have to adjust to “stricter regulatory law”.

Hofreiter and Habeck also advocate a “fair and stable market structure”, which they also include “preventive crisis instruments for market stabilization”. “In the event of a market crisis, binding measures to adjust the generation volume to demand should be counteracted.” In addition, market access must be improved, especially for small producers. Imports into the EU should only be permitted if European standards for climate, environmental and animal protection were applied.

At the same time, trade agreements should not run counter to these objectives. And the sale of products from EU agriculture should be promoted through a binding declaration of origin. "Each product should be labeled where the raw materials come from, instead of just the processing or packaging location, as was previously the case," says the paper, which, alongside Habeck and Hofreiter, is written by the Green politicians Renate Künast, Friedrich Ostendorff, Harald Ebner, Markus Tressel, Franziska Brantner, Oliver Krischer and Martin Häusling.