Environmental campaigners are accusing Paolo de Castro, the centre-left Italian MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s agriculture committee, of refusing to follow the mandate given to him by the Parliament for negotiations with the member states over a reform of the Common Agrigultural Policy (CAP).
The accusation comes ahead of a pivotal round of talks between member states and MEPs on Wednesday (15 May).
Campaign groups EEB, Birdlife and WWF accuse de Castro and others on the Parliament’s agriculture committee of ignoring the full Parliament’s vote in March backing the Commission’s original proposal to ‘green’ the CAP.
“Many of the parliamentarians who sit on the European Parliament’s agriculture committee and negotiate in these trilogues have made no secret of the fact that they do not personally believe in their mandate given by the 754 Parliamentarians who make up the plenary since they have had some of their pet recommendations voted down by their colleagues,” the NGOs say in a letter to European Voice.
“Some [on the agriculture committee] are active and retired farmers, former farm union presidents, people with links to the agrifood industry, and ex-farm ministers – basically people who may feel that their own personal or electoral interests are best served by the present agricultural subsidy policy,” the NGOs say.
“It was therefore unlikely that these MEPs attached to business as usual would become negotiators for robust greening and for strong changes.”
The letter goes on to say that any drift from the full Parliament’s mandate should be rejected and reprimanded by other MEPs. Both the Parliament’s agriculture committee and member states have sought to water down the Commission’s attempt to tie CAP funding to fulfilment of specific environmental measures.
The greening was meant to legitimise the CAP, one of the European Union’s most unpopular policies but also its most costly, in the eyes of the public.
De Castro denied the claims. He said the MEPs are “engaged in a difficult but totally transparent negotiation, sharing the common aim of vigorously defending the vote of the plenary. Anyone who has attended one of the trilogue sessions held so far can confirm this attitude.”
Farm ministers will be briefed on how the negotiations are progressing at a meeting in Brussels on Monday (13 May), one day ahead of the trilogue meeting between MEP negotiators, the Irish presidency and the European Commission. Ireland hopes to conclude CAP negotiations by the end of its presidency on 1 July.
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