12 juni 2018
Vewin questions ambition and effectiveness of proposals for future CAP
On 1 June, the European Commission (EC) presented the draft legislation for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020. For the drinking water sector, it is vital that the European agricultural policy contributes to the protection of groundwater and surface water against pollutants from agricultural sources. The upcoming reform of the agricultural policy presents an opportunity to agree on environmental objectives for the CAP that are more ambitious and can be better enforced. For that reason, Vewin advocates ‘blueing’ the CAP, meaning that measures included in the CAP should contribute towards achieving the water quality objectives already agreed at EU level, especially those in the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Vewin believes that the link with water in the current proposal is insufficient . One reason for this is that it is still unclear at this point how ambitious the objectives relating to environment and water will end up being, and another reason is that it is uncertain how effective the proposed approach will be with regard to resolving water quality issues.
Water quality improvement needs to be made a more explicit and concrete element in CAP
According to Vewin, the fact that three out of nine CAP objectives are related to the environment and water is positive. However, water quality improvement does need to be addressed more explicitly and be made more concrete. Only one out of nine objectives mentions water explicitly.
The proposal represents a shift from rules and compliance towards performance and better results. Vewin thinks such an approach could be beneficial for improving water quality, although it remains unclear at this point exactly how these improved results are to be achieved. Whether the approach succeeds or fails will depend on the level of ambition in the CAP objectives and on ‘conditionality’ (environmental requirements that will need to be met in order to qualify for direct payments), clear result indicators and an effective coordinating and monitoring role for the European Commission.
The CAP proposal provides more leeway for introducing measures at the national level aimed at achieving the CAP objectives. The EC proposes that member states draft a strategic plan every year detailing the strategy they intend to follow for achieving the CAP objectives and how the budgets for the two CAP pillars will be applied. At this point, the level of ambition is still too undefined. Furthermore, an ambitious approach at the national level is vital for achieving the objectives in time and in an effective manner, and engagement of the drinking water sector would be advisable.