Observation letters on CAP strategic plans

Apr 5, 2022

The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), adopted in December 2021, is based on a performance- and results-based approach that takes into account local conditions and needs, while increasing the EU’s ambition in terms of sustainability. This is reflected in the CAP’s ten specific objectives, linked to common EU goals for social, environmental, and economic sustainability in agriculture and rural areas.

On 31 March 2022, the European Commission (EC) sent observation letters relating to the first 19 proposed CAP strategic plans, which were submitted by Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The letters identify elements of the proposed plans that require further explanation, completion or adjustments before the EC can approve them.

Alongside the letters, the Commission has created an overview of the content of the letters, which summarises the key elements of the first 19 proposed plans and the related observations which are made for each country. The observations letters are organised into two parts:

  1. a) key issues relating to the entirety of a Plan – its strategic focus, contributions to the CAP’s general objectives and assessment in relation to the specific EU targets set in the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, and
  2. b) detailed observations according to the CAP’s ten specific objectives, the instruments and other elements of the proposed Plan.

The EC’s observations include that the context in which Member States have designed their draft Plans has changed with the Russian invasion on Ukraine and the ongoing generalised commodity price surge, bringing to the forefront the integral link between climate action and food security.

This new situation has been taken into account in the analysis and the Plans will require a further review to exploit all opportunities to: a) strengthen the EU’s agricultural sector resilience; b) reduce Member States’ dependence on synthetic fertilizers and scale up the production of renewable energy without undermining food production; and c) transform their production capacity in line with more sustainable production methods.

The Commission also includes comments relating to:

  • Economically sustainable and fairer CAP (fostering resilience and viable farm income; increased competitiveness and improve the position of farmers in the food chain; and common definitions and targetting for support).
  • A greener CAP (targets for Green Deal strategies and legislation on the environment and climate; requirements to meet GAEC standards; minimum funding for actions over the environment and climate; “nature” of funded action, etc).
  • Socially sustainable CAP (new generation of EU farmers; social conditionality; rural áreas; animal welfare, antimicrobial, resistance and biosecurity).
  • Knowledge sharing, innovation and digitalisation.