EC proposes relaxing agricultural regulations in the face of protests

Asociatyvi nuotr.

After months of intense protests in various countries, the European Commission (EC) on Friday unveiled plans to allow European Union (EU) member states to increase environmental requirements for farmers.

Agricultural policy is adapting to changing realities, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. The Commission will continue to give strong support to our farmers, who are at the heart of the EU's food security and at the frontline of our action on climate and the environment.

In February, protests paralysed the EU's political centre in Brussels as farmers with tractors protested against the bureaucracy of the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP provides subsidies to help farmers maintain their livelihoods, but the payment of funds is linked to strict environmental rules.

Friday's CAP amendments, which will still need the approval of EU member states and the European Parliament (EP), would help simplify rules on issues such as land use and crop rotation.

Farmers would no longer be obliged to leave part of their arable land fallow, and Member States would have to offer additional financial support to farmers who voluntarily ensure that part of their land remains idle. In addition, the EC proposes to roll back the rules requiring farmers to carry out crop rotation, and instead allow farmers to opt for crop diversification. However, each Member State would have to authorise diversification separately as an alternative to crop rotation. EU Member States would also be allowed to relax environmental rules in the event of extreme weather conditions.

However, it will be a long process before the proposed changes can be incorporated into EU law.

EU and EU Member States will initially be allowed to draft their own amendments to the proposals. Negotiators will then meet behind closed doors to find a compromise, which will then have to be endorsed by the Parliament and ministers of the member states.