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Environmental concerns over budget


Friday 8 February 2013

The latest draft 2014-2020 budget from European Council president Herman Van Rompuy was leaked this morning, and environmental campaigners are howling mad about what it contains.

Aside from the cuts to environmental aid and research funding, campaigners are most concerned about reshuffling in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget, which they say will undo years of work to ‘green' the CAP. While the CAP budget will remain the same or possibly even increase, the measures the European Commission had proposed to make it more environmentally friendly would be decimated.

Ariel Brunner of BirdLife Europe said that the deal “would literally kill the greening of the CAP.”

“This combined with cutting funding for the environment and development aid amounts in a complete betrayal of European citizens on behalf of the usual vested interests.”

In the drive to cut the EU budget for the first time in decades, it is environmental and research programmes which have taken a disproportionate hit. “This is the worst of both worlds: a smaller budget that is explicitly dedicated to keep pumping money into Europe's most wasteful and harmful policies and projects, in particular the CAP," said Jeremy Wates, of campaign group EEB.

- Giving member states the ability to move 25% of funds intended for ‘rural development' in the CAP to direct payments, to compensate for an overall cut in CAP spending.

- The abolition of CAP requirements to set-aside agriculture land as ‘ecological focus areas' which increase biodiversity.

- Significant reduction to the LIFE environmental funding programme.

- Significant reduction in environmental dvelopment aid, which could starve the green climate fund set up by the UN two years ago.

It's unclear whether a call for shifting funds from rural development to direct payments in the MFF could be undone in the actual CAP reform legislation. But it certainly gives a strong indication that this will be the result.

The draft budget contains some bizarrely detailed instructions for the CAP reform. It specifies that member states would be entirely free to choose measures which they would like to define as "green".  

Although the budget ceiling was agreed last night (at €960 billion), EU leaders still have to negotiate the individual budget headings today. This could still take several hours as several areas, such as CAP, are quite contentious.

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Observations and comment from European Voice's environment reporter.

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