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Green reform is turning sour


02 Oct 2009


Climate & Environment
Health & Consumers

CAP Health check implementation betrays the environment

Brussels, 02 October 2009 - BirdLife International [1] sounds the alarm over the failure of many Member States to use newly-generated targeted funding to address biodiversity decline and other environmental emergencies. In a letter to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mrs Mariann Fischer Boel, BirdLife asks the Commission not to approve Member States revisions of their Rural Development plans that include hardly any funding for biodiversity and the environment and that channel important investments into further unsustainable intensification of the dairy sector.

The Commission has always presented the 2008 “CAP Health Check” [2] as a green reform aiming to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and the looming water crisis- the ‘new challenges’ [3] in Commission speak. The Commission has maintained that harm done to biodiversity by the abolition of Set aside would be compensated by the deployment of targeted agri-environmental schemes funded through the Health Check reforms.

The recent Commission admission that the 2010 target of halting biodiversity loss will not be achieved [4], and that farmed habitats and the species dependent on them are faring particularly badly only highlights the urgency of additional measures to tackle biodiversity decline on EU farmland. [5]

Despite these notional good intentions, it is becoming increasingly clear that most Member States are using the opportunities offered by the Health Check mainly to promote further intensification in the dairy sector, often with harmful environmental consequences, while hardly any of the promised funding for biodiversity and other environmental concerns is materialising.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer at BirdLife European Division, commented: “The Health Check was supposed to move the deeply flawed CAP toward more sustainable grounds. It is now becoming clear that it will result in a net negative impact on the environment”

BirdLife International urges the Commission to take adequate action to ensure Member States implement the Health Check objective on biodiversity [6]. In particular the Commission should not approve Member States’ revised Rural Development Programmes that fail to address biodiversity conservation and other environmental challenges.

“This is the last opportunity for the outgoing Commissioner to leave some positive legacy on the environmental front” added Ariel Brunner. “Further pandering to the industrial milk lobby will deal a further blow to both the European environment and the CAP’s credibility, probably while making the dairy sectors’ problems only worse”. [7]



Ariel Brunner, Senior EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife European Division, Brussels, ; Tel.: +32 2 280 08 30

Herlinde Herpoel, Media & Communication Manager, BirdLife European Division, Brussels, , Tel +32 494 542 844