As Galileo said: … eppur si muove … (and yet it moves)

Recent years have seen an exponential increase in criticisms of the European institutions. We always expect substantial changes from Brussels …  But often we forget that the EU institutions act on the mandate and under the control of member states, and that the latter do not want to give EU institutions any autonomy. Nevertheless the EU machine does move and when something positive happens we should be pleased and show our appreciation.

On 5 July the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) acquired greater powers over the process of reform of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy). In future, the Committee will be able to intervene directly with its own amendments along  with the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) on matters regarding the environment. Technically this relates to article 54 of the rules of procedure of the European Parliament (Procedure for Associated Committees).

Until now the procedure was this: AGRI would send texts on the CAP to all the parliamentary committees with an interest in the subject, and they would read, discuss and send the text back to AGRI with their comments. The latter could decide whether or not to take them into account and it was always AGRI that presented the final version to the European Parliament.

As a result of the change made on 5 July, the comments and texts produced by ENVI will form an integral part of the text that is made available to the full assembly. AGRI and ENVI will therefore work together on the preparation and presentation of the text on agriculture in the EU.

Environmental organizations are pleased with this new situation, which recognizes their efforts to make agriculture more responsive to environmental concerns. Farmers’ organizations are less pleased, as they see the risk of limits being imposed on their farming activities, which are already difficult enough.

We should in any case recognize that Parliament has shown its desire to stress the fact that agriculture is no longer just about farming and that the AGRI committee must accept that agricultural production and environmental protection are equally important, especially in relation to ongoing climate change.