Brussels – The European Parliament today voted to bin rules protecting nature and soil quality on farms, in a move that jeopardises Europe’s ability to feed future generations, Greenpeace has warned.

The Parliament approved a European Commission proposal to remove requirements in the EU’s common agricultural policy for farms to protect soils, leave a small percentage of land to nature and rotate their crops, among other limited measures to protect the environment. The plan also exempts nearly 17 million hectares of farmland – the size of Germany’s total agricultural land – from any environmental controls. 

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: “Droughts have ruined harvests across southern Europe, some of the wettest months on record are doing the same in the north. Most farmers are rightly demanding a fair income, and to be protected from a ruthless market dominated by some major players who squeeze them for every cent. Throwing the last protections for nature in Europe’s countryside into the thresher won’t save farmers, and will leave us all more vulnerable to extreme weather wrecking crops and livelihoods. This vote shreds the last scraps of credibility that the EU’s farm policy protects the environment and the public interest.”

The Commission’s proposal, drafted in just a few weeks in response to farmers’ protests, has been approved by the Parliament at the last plenary session before EU elections in June. The vote was rushed onto the Parliament’s agenda using a procedure which shortcuts political debates and skips votes in the Parliament’s responsible committees.

In its first-ever climate risk assessment report, published in March this year, the European Environment Agency said that the EU must change its farm policy to encourage more sustainable farming practices and stressed that “reducing pollution from agricultural and industrial activities should be a priority for protecting Europe’s ecosystems under climate change”. The changes approved today take European farming in completely the opposite direction, Greenpeace warned.

Next steps

The proposal passed by the European Parliament will need to be formally approved by national agriculture ministers at one of their upcoming Council meetings.


Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director: +32 477 77 70 34, [email protected] 

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 2 274 19 11, [email protected]

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