A question from the Strasbourg Parliament could open the great Pandora's box, in relation to the checks that the European Commission should carry out to ensure transparency and 'balanced representation of different interests', in the management of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by the Member States.
The question had been raised by the European Ombudsman, the European Ombudsman of Irish nationality Emily O'Reilly, on 10.2.22. In the meantime, the European Commission has ordered Italy and France to substantially revise the PSN (National Strategic Plan) for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy in the two protagonist countries of agriculture in the EU (1,2).
CAP, transparency issues and balance in the distribution of funds
The MEP Peter Lundgren (ECR political group, European Conservatives and Reformists), in his question 2.3.22 to the European Commission, referred to the issues raised by the European Ombudsman:
- 'How does the Commission ensure transparency and balanced representation of different interest groups when it comes to the CAP?'
- 'Will the Commission check whether the information that Member States have on the beneficiaries of CAP funding is correct?'
- 'What transparency measures will be taken regarding the Commission's discussions with Member States on how they intend to achieve the objectives set out in the CAP, including those of the European Green Deal?'
- 'How does the Commission check that CAP funds are being used correctly?' (3)
European Commission, the commitments
The European Commission, obviously, he replied that 'it will reply to the European Ombudsman in due course'. Meanwhile, in its answer to the question by the Honorable Peter Lundgren, the Brussels executive stated the following.
'The Commission is committed to working transparently and strives to actively involve stakeholders in all policy areas, including the CAP. Stakeholder consultation under the Better Regulation Agenda and the Transparency Portal and Register are key tools for this commitment. ' (4)
I Civil Dialogue Groups
The 'balanced representation of the many stakeholders interested in agriculture'under the CAP, according to the European Commission, it would be guaranteed by civil dialogue groups (CDGs, Civil Dialogue Groups).
Organizations participating in the CDG were selected in 2014 for seven years. Their mandate was extended at the end of 2022, in line with the extension of the current CAP regulations (5,6).
'Agenda, minutes, documents and presentations used in CDG meetings are made available to ensure transparency. A new Commission decision is in preparation and will be followed by a new call in 2022. ' (4)
Management and control of the CAP by the Member States
'To manage correctly the CAP'- continues the European Commission, in its response to the European Parliament -'Member States must put in place adequate management and control systems, in particular the integrated administration and control system for the management of the area and livestock schemes.
Subsequently, the Commission verifies that funds are spent correctly by carrying out system audits in the Member States. This protects EU funds from irregular payments by returning unduly spent amounts to the EU budget due to deficiencies found in their management and control systems. Furthermore, by revealing the shortcomings to be remedied, audits have a corrective and preventive role.(4)
Democracy in agriculture, the great farce
From words to deeds, democracy in agriculture is today a colossal farce. Few large agricultural confederations represent - in a purely theoretical line, as demonstrated by the false numbers of the members of Coldiretti (7) - millions of small farmers who are instead completely unaware of what is being decided on their heads.
The monopolists global agrochemical industry (Big 4) continue to dominate agricultural policy. At a European level - as is evident in the case of Copa-Cogeca (8) - and even more at a national level, where conflicts of interest are systemic.
This explains the recent lack of attention to pesticide and fertilizer reduction programs (non-) reform of the CAP.
The PNRR already rejected by the European Commission (1) well expresses the Italian paradox, where the resources destined for so-called sustainable agriculture have been diverted to the producers of photovoltaic solar panels, as well as vehicles and other amenities for logistics and the fateful agriculture 4.0. (9)
Farmers and Italian farmers, moreover - after having invested in the 'agricultural park', rather than in the soil, agroecology, conversion to organic - will not even be able to market unused energy. Unlike what happens in neighboring France, where at least farmers will be able to support themselves even in this way. (10)
Cover design by Red Dessinateur
(1) Dario Dongo. PAC, the European Commission rejects Italy's National Strategic Plan. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.4.22, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/pac-la-commissione-europea-boccia-il-piano-strategico-nazionale-dell-italia-vanghepulite
(2) Common agricultural policy: pour the European Commission le plan stratégique français n'est pas à la hauteur des enjeux environnementaux! Generations futures. 7.4.22, https://www.generations-futures.fr/actualites/pac-psn-commission/
(3) Question E-000856/2022 from the European Parliament to the Commission, signed by the Honorable Peter Lundgren (ECR, Sweden). 2.3.22, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-000856_EN.html
(4) Answer by Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowsk, on behalf of the European Commission, to question E-000856/2022. 19.4.22, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2022-000856-ASW_EN.html
(5) Commission Decision 2013/767 / EU, establishing a framework for civil dialogue in the area of the common agricultural policy. Consolidated text at 14.7.21 on Europa-Lex, https://bit.ly/3LmvFr5
(6) Lists of organizations participating in Civil Dialogue Groups (CDGs) related to the CAP (or CAP, Common Agriculture Policy) and related subjects can be found on https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/food-farming-fisheries/key_policies/documents/cdg-decision-composition-annex_en.pdf
(7) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, many partners and some doubts. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.4.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/coldiretti-tanti-soci-e-alcuni-dubbi-vanghepulite
(8) Dario Dongo, Marta Strinati. CAP post 2020, environment and health at risk. Appeal to the EU Parliament. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.10.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/pac-post-2020-ambiente-e-salute-a-rischio-appello-al-parlamento-ue
(9) Dario Dongo. National action plan for pesticides, sustainable agriculture and PNRR. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.2.22, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/sicurezza/piano-di-azione-nazionale-pesticidi-agricoltura-sostenibile-e-pnrr-vanghepulite
(10) V. Investissement photovoltaïque agricultural, comment le rentabiliser simplement? Colibri solar. 25.6.21, https://bit.ly/3kg3nm0