‘Green subsidies not helping environment’
EU auditors have said “green” farm subsidies have little environmental effect.
The EU introduced the payments in 2013 under the Common Agricultural Policy, to encourage farmers to diversify crops, maintain permanent grassland and set aside a percentage of land for nature conservation.
But the bloc’s auditors said in a report last week that the system was overly complex and had led to changes on only 5pc of EU farmland.
“Greening remains essentially an income support scheme,” said EU auditor Samo Jereb, who oversaw the report.
“As currently implemented, it is unlikely to enhance the CAP’s environmental and climate performance significantly.”
Greening payments make up a third of CAP subsidies, and add up to around €12 billion a year, or around €80 a hectare.
The EU’s Luxembourg-based court of auditors said that the payments overlapped with other environmental requirements under the CAP.
They said farmers should have to comply with basic environmental rules and performance targets to get CAP money, with penalties for those who fail.
The Commission has begun a top-to-toe overhaul of the CAP ahead of the talks on the EU’s new long-term budget, which are due to begin next May.
Recently, the bloc admitted greening payments were its “most burdensome and complex element”.