40 reasons why

the EU commission should #WithdrawTheCAP

The current proposed CAP is a muddle of confusing policy, and it is difficult to find information about it. Most of what is said online is that it’s just plain bad. And it is, these are just 40 reasons why the EU needs to #WithdrawTheCAP


  1. The current proposed CAP is a direct violation of the Paris Agreement.

    The Paris agreement, signed by all EU member states in 2016, is a landmark international climate agreement aiming to keep global temperature increase well below 2°C compared to preindustrial levels. The only concrete target aimed at making the CAP in line with the Paris agreement (amendment 808, part 2) was voted down by the European Council in October.

  2. The current proposed CAP is contradictory to the climate emergency declaration made by the EU in November 2019.

    To declare a climate emergency is an acknowledgement of how critical the situation is, as well as a promise to take the measures required to act against it. This CAP is not in line with the best available united climate science and it risks further accelerating the temperature increase.

  3. The CAP is a big deal.

    The CAP stands for approximately 35% of the EU's budget (European Parliament 2020), and it finances a sector which accounts for 10% of the EU's domestic greenhouse gas emissions (Eurostat 2020). How the resources within the CAP are distributed and on what conditions impact all life on the planet.

  4. The current proposed CAP is not in line with the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals.

    This CAP fails to present a clear strategy for the implementation of the sustainable development goals and leaves it for interpretation by individual policy departments. The CAP violates several of the sustainable development goals, including target 13) climate action and 15) life on Earth.

  5. The current proposed CAP is not in line with the European Green Deal.

    The proposal to integrate concrete Green Deal targets into the CAP (amendment 1199) was voted down by the European Council.

  6. We don't have time for seven more years of inaction.

    The current proposed CAP is a seven-year-long budget. This means that we are locked to intensive, unsustainable agriculture until 2027 and two more years during which the CAP will be renewed - a point at which it may very well be too late to lower our carbon emissions sufficiently to stay below the crucial 1,5°C or even 2°C of global temperature increase compared to preindustrial levels.

  7. The EU is greenwashing.

    The CAP proposal has been presented as a green reform of the old CAP budget, but the fact is that after having been watered down in negotiations the current proposal is not that different from the old one.

  8. The current proposed CAP defines a maximum amount of expenses that can be spent on environmental conservation.

    Member states are prohibited from formulating policies that hinder the EU from reaching its market competition objectives, and they are not allowed to define stricter minimum standards. (ARC 2020).


  1. The views of farmers (who are affected by the CAP) and environmental scientists were not adequately listened to during the negotiations.

    Instead, corporate lobby interests were overrepresented.

  2. Conflict of interest

    Many members of parliament (MEPs) directly or indirectly benefit from CAP subsidies. MEP Peter Jahr, who drafted an amendment to reject a large part of the environmentally progressive parts of the original CAP proposal, personally received over 111 000 euros in CAP subsidies last year.

  3. Amendments were not translated prior to voting.

    The amendments not being translated made the information inaccessible for some of those who voted on its adoption (ARC 2020).

  4. The voting was preponed.

    A decision was made on short notice (on Monday evening) to vote on Tuesday the 20th of October rather than on Wednesday the 21st, which makes the process in its entirety undemocratic (ARC 2020).

  5. Eco-schemes are pure greenwashing.

    30% of direct payments (eco-schemes) are tied to eco-friendly farming but they have too many loopholes to be effective. Member states are encouraged to pay for precision farming and measures which increase competitiveness and protect the environment.

Climate change

  1. Economic profit is prioritized before climate and environmental action.

    In Article 28b, it is stated that any environmental measures need to be compatible with economic objectives in article 6 (ARC 2020).

  2. The current proposed CAP has no clear emission reduction goal.

    Climate target of 30% reduction in emissions within the agricultural sector was rejected (amendment 808, part 2).

  3. You can destroy the environment and get paid for it.

    The current proposed CAP would continue direct payment to farmers without higher demands on environmental measures.

  4. Increased risk of setting off an irreversible chain reaction of tipping points.

    The current proposed CAP would take the 1,5°C target out of reach, according to Dr. Guy Pe'er who has conducted science on the topics of agricultural policies and anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity. According to the IPCC special report of 2018, it is at this point of warming that we risk setting off a number of tipping points (melting ice caps, depletion of carbon sinks, etc.) that would start an irreversible chain reaction taking global warming to a point beyond human control.

  5. There is very little room for member states to write more ambitious environmental policies.

    The fact that at least 60% of the budget of the current proposed CAP is ring-fenced for direct payment, coupled support, etc. makes it difficult for member states to allocate more than the required 30% to eco-schemes (WWF 2020).


  1. The current proposed CAP fails to support organic farming.

    The proposal to increase support for organic farming (amendment 832) was rejected.

  2. The CAP has without noticing historically been a driving force for increased pollution and species extinction, and the "reform" is not much different.

    The cap supports large scale agriculture and pays farmers depending on the amount of land they own. This already forced farmers over the last decades into constant extensive production and managing of more and more land, leaving one farmer taking care of multiple acres, which they can only manage with the help of rental companies. This has led to an alienation between farmers and the land their own due to the CAP. As a result of that farmers are not able to care adequately about the land management, since they know the most important thing is just to own or rent that land, while the management practice is unlinked to the EU support payments.

  3. Farmers are not required to plan their actions for pesticide reduction to receive a direct payment.

    Pesticides used to combat unwanted organisms, pests and diseases in crops are damaging water and soil quality, biodiversity and can end up in the food we eat, thus negatively affecting our health. The EU itself recognizes that the need for pesticides can be decreased through sustainable agricultural practices, yet fails to make the reduction of pesticide use conditional in the current proposed CAP (ECA, 2020).

  4. Intensified agriculture: monoculture will replace past intercropping and crop rotation systems.

    Crop rotation allows for several different species to be planted on the same land that has different growing seasons, and also swapes the types of crops from year to year. Crops suck nutrients out of the ground regardless of if they are cultivated in a monoculture, crop rotation system, small or big scale system or an intercropping system. Important is the fact that different crops require different nutrient amounts/ compositions, which makes a crop rotation useful so the soil doesn't get the same nutrients sucked out in a long period without resting. This makes the crops naturally resistant to weeds and diseases and allows for more biodiversity (Ouda et.al, 2018).
    Monocultures don't have space for biodiversity. It is larger-scale, more intensive and deprives the soil of nutrients. This means the crops need artificial nutrients, through the likes of fertilisers (Daniels et.al, 2016).

  5. Draining wetlands.

    Natural wetlands have several important ecosystem services, such as water purification, carbon sequestration, and providing unique habitats. These ecosystem services allow natural wetlands to be some of the most biodiverse ecosystems globally. They are habitats for a large range of plant and animal species. If we drain and lose these wetlands we will lose large amounts of biodiversity (Arvid et.al 2020).

  6. Lack of protection of peatlands.

    Peatlands, which store large amounts of carbon, are insufficiently protected in the current proposed CAP. Mismanagement of peatlands can lead to them emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributing to the climate crisis, according to scientist Guy Pe'er. The initial CAP proposal made peatland protection obligatory, but this was later changed into an abstract recommendation (ARC 2020). This stands contrary to the 'UNEA-4 Resolution on the Conservation and sustainable management of peatlands,' which was adopted by all countries in March 2019. This Resolution urges "Member States and other stakeholders to give greater emphasis to the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of peatlands worldwide" (UNEP/EA.4/Res.16). The EU acted as one of the resolution co-negotiators, pushing for this resolution. The CAP provides no concrete pathways for this resolution to be realised.

  7. Decreased protection of Natura 2000 grassland.

    Rather than banning ploughing on Natura 2000 sites altogether, as is the case now, the proposed CAP reform replaces the word "ban" with the unclear term "appropriate protection."

  8. The current proposed CAP gives barely any space for nature.

    The CAP only requires farmers to devote 5% of agricultural land to non-productive features (i.e. the area where nature is allowed to recover). This is an insufficient number (FACE 2020).

  9. The current proposed CAP contributes to soil degradation.

    In 2017 the UNCCD warned in their Global Land Outlook (GLO) that 1/3 of the actual usable soil for farming is already degraded and we lose about 24 billion tons of fertile soil every year due to wind and water erosion, salinization and acidification. The main reason for this is our way of cultivating in large scaled monocropping systems promoted by the CAP with not a single tree or shrub in between, which would prevent erosion in multiple ways.

The 'Caring for Soil is Caring for Life' mission (proposed by the Soil Health and Food Mission Board, which was formed by the European Commission) has proposed the target date of 2030, by which at least 75% of EU soils should be healthy for food, people, nature and climate (Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission), 2020). The CAP undermines this proposed target, through the lack of regulation on the use of pesticides, incentivising extensive farming and putting biodiversity at risk.

  1. The current proposed CAP is not in line with the Biodiversity Strategy, the Farm to Fork Strategy or the Climate Law.

    The European Parliament voted down all amendments referring to above-noted policies (amendments 876-878 and 1191-1193).

Social justice

  1. Europe has a historical responsibility to act against the climate and ecological emergency.

    Because European imperialist countries have profited off the exploitation of natural resources on other continents for centuries and are among the main contributors to global warming, pollution and environmental destruction overall, they need to go first. In addition, as a result of the imperial actions by these countries, they are more financially placed to act.

  2. Unjust distribution of financial resources.

    The current proposed CAP distributes subsidies per hectare rather than targeting them to where they are actually needed. This benefits big industrial farms and causes disadvantages to smaller farms #### (Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung 2020). At the moment, 20% of the recipients receive 80% of the CAP's budget (EU Fact Check 2019).

  3. CAP fails to support the incomes of farmers most in need and subsidises farming regions with the most pollution and the least biodiversity-friendly farming habits.

    This means that farming regions with the highest greenhouse gas emissions from intensive livestock production are getting paid billions of euros each year without any obligation to reduce pollution.

  4. The direct payments oftentimes do not go to the farmers themselves.

    About 50% of the farmland in the EU is rented, meaning that CAP subsidies often go to the landowners rather than the farmers themselves (ARC 2019).

  5. It's not just about the EU.

    Greenhouse gas emissions aren't concentrated in the exact area of the atmosphere below which they were emitted - the EU's climate policies impact the entire world. It is deeply unfair that a small number of people in Europe have the mandate to decide whether lives on other continents are worth protecting.

  6. Those who are the least responsible are also the most impacted.

The richest 10%, a large part of which are Europeans, are responsible for almost half of all global emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50% (of which many are Europeans) are responsible for only about 10% of emissions. These people and the areas in which they live (mainly the Global South) are also the most impacted by the consequences of climate change (Gore, T 2020). The EU's inadequate climate action in the agricultural sector not only jeopardizes the lives of EU citizens but even more so the lives of non-EU citizens.

  1. Not a very fair competition.

    The CAP aims at intensifying and increasing the profitability of EU farms, enabling them to compete on the international market. This has a devastating impact on farms in other parts of the world, especially in the Global South, where government subsidies are lower. This neocolonialist pattern destabilizes local economies (Barbière, C 2019).

  2. Increased food importation.

    When food products from the EU become cheaper than locally produced food (as described above), people are forced to buy imported products rather than products produced by their local community. Needless to say, this unnecessary transportation contributes to increased pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (Barbière, C 2019).

  3. Deforestation

    In order to compete with EU farms, farms in, for example South America, are required to intensify their production as well. This leads to the destruction of rainforest in favour of increased production of monoculture crops (Barbière, C 2019).

Animal welfare

  1. The current proposed CAP promotes intensive industrial farming.

    Poorly regulated intensive industrial farming prioritises profit over the safety and wellbeing of farm animals. This includes cramming animals into small spaces, exposing them to a stressful environment and slaughtering them. Just as humans, animals are sentient beings who experience stress, anxiety and fear (Compassion in World Farming).

  2. The CAP does not have sufficient conditionality on animal welfare.

    As of today, the CAP provides payments even for farmers who do not meet basic animal welfare standards, such as providing animals sufficient space to move around and lay down (Greenpeace European Unit 2019). The current proposed CAP has made little to no progress in this area.

40. We can do better.

The European Union has a lot of political and economic power, both within the EU and globally. The decisions made by the EU come with huge impacts on communities all over the world, and while the current proposed CAP would be detrimental in many aspects it certainly doesn't have to be that way. We ask for the EU commission to start from scratch and create a more equitable and sustainable CAP.


ARC 2019, Agriculture Atlas: Tied to the Land

https://www.arc2020.eu/agriculture-atlas-tied-to-the-land/, accessed 8 November 2020

ARC 2020, CAP Reform: No Change of System Apparent

https://www.arc2020.eu/cap-reform-no-change-of-system-apparent/, accessed 8 November 2020

ARC 2020, Parliament Plenary -- Here's the Amendments to Vote for and Against

https://www.arc2020.eu/parliament-plenary-heres-the-amendments-to-vote-for-and-against/, accessed 8 November 2020

Arvid et.al 2020, Groundwater storage effects from restoring, constructing or draining wetlands in temperate and boreal climates: a systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence

Barbière, C 2019, The CAP has devastating effects on developing countries, report says

https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/the-cap-has-devastating-effects-on-developing-countries-report-says/, accessed 8 November 2020

Compassion in World Farming, Animal Cruelty

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farming/animal-cruelty/#:~:text=Factory%20farming%20exploits%20animals%2C%20cramming,farm%20animals%20as%20sentient%20beings, accessed 8 November 2020

Daniels et.al, 2016, An Introduction to Human Geography, 5th edition. Chapter 7. Pearson.

Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission), 2020, Caring for Soils is Caring for Life - Ensure 75% of soils are healthy by 2030 for food, people, nature, and climate, available from https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/4ebd2586-fc85-11ea-b44f-01aa75ed71a1/

ECA 2020, Special report 05: Sustainable use of plant protection products: limited progress in measuring and reducing risks, accessed 8 November 2020

EU Fact Check 2019, True: "80 percent of the European money for agriculture goes to the 20 percent largest farmers"

https://eufactcheck.eu/factcheck/true-80-percent-of-the-european-money-for-agriculture-goes-to-the-20-percent-largest-farmers/, accessed 8 November 2020

European Parliament 2020, Financing of the CAP

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/106/la-financiacion-de-la-pac, accessed 8 November 2020

Eurostat 2020, Agri-environmental indicator - greenhouse gas emissions

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Archive:Agri-environmental_indicator_-_greenhouse_gas_emissions&oldid=374989#Notes, accessed 8 November 2020

FACE 2020, Compromise on CAP concluded by major European Parliament groups

https://www.face.eu/2020/10/compromise-on-cap-concluded-by-major-european-parliament-groups/, accessed 8 November 2020

Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung 2020, The Common Agricultural Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals: Two Trains Travelling in Opposite Directions, accessed 8 November 2020

Greenpeace European Unit 2019, Factory farms divide the European Parliament

https://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/issues/nature-food/1923/factory-farms-divide-eu-parliament/, accessed 8 November 2020

Gore, T 2020, Confronting carbon inequality

https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/confronting-carbon-inequality, accessed 8 November 2020

Ouda et.al, 2018, Crop Rotation: An Approach to Secure Future Food. Springer

WWF 2020, EU Parliament and Council ignore the Green Deal and plough on with an outdated CAP

https://www.wwf.eu/?uNewsID=987041, accessed 8 November 2020

UNCCD, 2017, Global land outlook: Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Bonn. https://www.unccd.int/actions/global-land-outlook-glo, accessed 9 November 2020

United Nations Environmental Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme, Fourth Session, 2019, Conservation and Sustainable Management of Peatlands, UNEP/EA.4/Res.16. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28480/English.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y