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New study explores possibilities for a better CAP


07 Nov 2016


Agriculture & Food
Climate & Environment



Brussels – 7 November 2016


New study explores possibilities for a better CAP

Today NABU (BirdLife’s partner in Germany) releases a study [1] it commissioned from the Institute for Agroecology and Biodiversity (IFAB) in Mannheim which explores the potential for a reformed system of agricultural subsidies to deliver for biodiversity and farmers.

“The EU’s agricultural policy has been failing for years despite repeated attempts to reform”, said NABU President Olaf Tschimpke“So far public money is spent inefficiently and the results pollute the environment. This is a double burden for taxpayers, as the damage to soil, water and nature is costly.”

Forty percent of the EU budget currently goes to agriculture, i.e. over 50 billion euros per year, or more than € 112 per EU citizen. This spending respects neither climate nor nature conservation. The study investigates an alternative way of distributing subsidies, developed by the renowned agricultural ecologist Dr. Rainer Oppermann, which would benefit both farmers and nature. Instead of providing untargeted direct payments to farms, the new model would link payments to concrete sustainability criteria, together with targeted payments for specific environmental services and measures, thus providing farmers with an economically attractive incentive to deliver for nature and society. In the new model, contrary to the current system, ALL measures and funding priorities are designed and co-financed considering their societal benefits. It is specifically relevant as it looks also at the links between delivery for nature and their income effects. This analysis shows that a redistribution of subsidies along environmental lines can be beneficial for farmers from an income perspective while bringing the incentives in line with public goods delivered to citizens.

"It is important that EU funds remain with farmers and forest owners. These funds must, however, benefit those who really add value to society beyond the legal obligations," said Dr. Rainer Oppermann, author of the study. "Our calculations show that this is possible and profitable for many farmers."

The proposals in Oppermann’s study show that when looking at one Member State like Germany it is possible to make agricultural subsidies deliver much more for the environment at the same cost to society, and be far more fair to farmers.

Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe stated: “This study adds to the evidence that the current policy needs to be fundamentally revised if it to deliver real value to European farmers and citizens. The Commission should start the big debate on sustainable food and farming with the much needed fitness check so that based on facts and figures for all Member States, we can reshape this policy once and for all, for the benefit of people and nature.”

The study will be presented at the Representation of Baden-Wuerttemberg to the EU in Brussels on November 16th – to find our more and register click here


For further information, please contact:

Dr. Raphael Weyland, EU Conservation Policy Officer, NABU

Tel. +32 487 45 71 91

Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe  

Tel: +32 478 88 73 02



[1] The study, in German is available here:

[2] The NABU background paper with English summary of the study is here:

[3] The NABU web page to the study’s release is here:

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.