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The Commission urges Spain to rewrite the CAP Strategic Plan | Economy

Farmers protest at the gates of the Ministry of Agriculture, in July 2021 in Madrid.
Farmers protest at the gates of the Ministry of Agriculture, in July 2021 in Madrid.Isabel Infantes (Europa Press)

The Ministry of Agriculture has initiated a new work process with the autonomous communities that will be extended in the coming weeks with organizations linked to the agricultural, agri-food and rural sectors to rework the Strategic Plan where the more than 47,000 million euros planned will be applied. in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2023 to 2027. This new negotiation process responds to the obligation to respond to the long list of observations made by the Commission of the European Union to the document sent to Brussels by the Spanish Administration at the end from December. The objective was for it to be approved in the first half of this year for its application in January 2023. For this reason, Agriculture intends to respond as quickly as possible to maintain the planned schedule.

The Strategic Plan, prepared between 2019 and 2021 with the participation of fifty organizations linked to agricultural activity, the agri-food industry and rural territory, concluded in a study of more than 4,000 pages. Despite the enormous work carried out by the technical services of the ministry, Brussels points out that Spain must review its content for its approval, precisely improving the objectives set and defining an adequate level of ambition in line with the identified needs, especially regarding the application of the green policy.

The Commission understands that the invasion of Ukraine, with a general rise in the prices of raw materials, has highlighted the strong relationship between climate and food security. In addition to the importance of having a balance between a model of sustainable agricultural activity and that at the same time guarantees a sufficient supply in volume, quality and prices. Along these lines, Brussels points out the importance of having a strong agricultural sector, with less dependence on synthetic fertilizers, with more renewable energies, with more support for carbon-based agriculture, greater use of biogas, more production of protein crops or more transfer of knowledge to agricultural activity.

From this global perspective, Brussels analyzed the plan submitted by Spain, a country to which it requests to modify or rework many aspects of it. For example, greater precision is claimed and the existence of some errors in data entry is added, giving rise to significant inconsistencies in relation to financial allocations, as occurs in the objective of promoting organic farming.

In relation to the promotion of a smart agricultural sector, Brussels recognizes the importance that Spain gives in its plan to achieving this type of objective, but at the same time points out the need for more actions aimed at reducing dependence on fossil fuels and other external inputs to preserve long-term sustainable production capacity and have viable farms. The Commission is satisfied with the Spanish aid model, the measures on convergence in payments, their redistribution or its position to eliminate payments for historical links, although it asks that these initiatives be complemented with quantitative analyzes showing the possible effects.

The Commission also recognizes the efforts to achieve more viable and competitive market-oriented farms or the promotion of producer organizations at origin to concentrate supply, but does not see that there are sufficient justifications in the proposal. In fact, Brussels asks Spain why this policy is not supported by sectors other than fruit and vegetables, wine, beekeeping or oil.

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Commission doubts

A key point in the Community response are the observations regarding the policies on the protection of the environment, the climate or biodiversity, where the Commission, from the outset, points out its doubts about the effective contribution of the plan to that objective and asks the Spain that best demonstrates its ambition for the so-called green architecture. In this direction, the Government is demanded of the need to act with more and greater diligence for actions such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and livestock, land management, soil sustainability, the use of nutrients, the circular economy, the greater use of organic fertilizers, the fight against desertification or the greater saving of water.

Brussels requests a reflection on the limited territorial coverage of measures for the defense of biodiversity. In relation to organic farming, the Commission welcomes the fact that the objective of reaching 20% ​​of the useful agricultural area in 2030 has been set, but calls on the Administration to clarify the measures proposed for this. Also, detail how you want to achieve your objectives to improve water quality, its use, the risks of abusive use of pesticides, the use of nutrients, the risks or the situation of antimicrobials. Among many other observations, Brussels wants information on how to promote the economic fabric in rural areas, the incorporation of women in agricultural activity, generational change or animal welfare. On the other hand, the Commission does agree with the objectives set by Spain on the extension of broadband, although it also gives it homework: it wants to know how this expansion will unfold.

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