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US News Opinion: EU is pushing for real agricultural reform

19:00  21 october  2020
19:00  21 october  2020 Source:   dw.com

Nigeria: the announcement of the dissolution of the SARS does not appease the demonstrators

 Nigeria: the announcement of the dissolution of the SARS does not appease the demonstrators © REUTERS / Temilade Adelaja Demonstration against police violence in Lagos, October 12, 2020. Despite the announcement of the dissolution of the highly contested police unit, the young people took to the streets again on Monday, October 13 in Nigeria, pushing President Muhammadu Buhari to speak for the first time since the start of this movement.

In the EU agricultural policy, environmental protection should play a greater role in the future. That’s a good resolution. But despite the agricultural reform, Brussels is still a long way from an ecological turnaround, says Max Zander.

Provided by Deutsche Welle © Jochen Tack / picture-alliance Provided by Deutsche Welle

Late, but hopefully not too late, the EU recognized that agriculture and environmental protection are two sides of the same coin. In the future, therefore, the Common Agricultural Policy should make a greater contribution to protecting nature and the climate from the harmful effects of agriculture.

If the European Commission has its way, member states will in future be able to develop more of their own strategies for implementing their environmental goals. Also new and particularly controversial are the so-called organic regulations , programs with which participating farmers can receive additional subsidies if they want to.

Calls to reform the monarchy, arrests: what's going on in Thailand

 Calls to reform the monarchy, arrests: what's going on in Thailand © Mladen ANTONOV Discontent has been simmering since February when the leaders of an opposition party, popular among young people, were banned from politics The student movement pro Thai democracy has intensified for three months and, for the first time in the country's history, some activists do not hesitate to call for a reform of the royalty, until now a taboo subject.

Large companies, large subsidies

What sounds good at first, however, on closer inspection, turns out to be inconsistent. Because most of the EU agricultural subsidies continue to be in the form of area payments. So everything stays the same: the bigger the company, the higher the subsidy from Brussels.

Large-area countries such as France, Germany and Spain benefit from this traditional and anything but environmentally friendly distribution mechanism. And agricultural corporations with a bad climate footprint that damage the environment and contribute to species extinction. And it is at the expense of small and medium-sized companies.

Max Zander berichtet für die DW aus Brüssel © DW Max Zander reports for DW from Brussels

It is well known: Every year subsidies amounting to billions flow to farmers in the member states. Agricultural subsidies are the largest item in the EU budget. The majority of the funds go to the farms in the form of direct payments. The watering can principle is used here.

Thailand: parliament convened, demonstrators increase pressure

 Thailand: parliament convened, demonstrators increase pressure © Jonathan KLEIN Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators defy, for the fourth day in a row, the ban on assemblies in Bangkok to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister and a reform of the monarchy, before dispersing in peace. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha called a special session of parliament on Monday in the face of protesters who continue to challenge power with new rallies planned to demand the release of activists and reform of the monarchy.

As long as this principle does not change, there will be no ecological turnaround in European agriculture, even if Brussels wants to become greener with the agricultural reform. Because the majority of direct payments are not linked to compliance with environmental regulations.

Criticism from the EU Parliament

In addition, the new eco-regulations are based on voluntariness and are set low. According to EU member states, only 20 percent of the direct payments should be used on them. The European Parliament's preliminary compromise calls for 30 percent. If nature conservationists have their way, the premiums would have to start at 30 percent and gradually increase so that they have any effect at all.

And not even that is certain. Because not only the adoption of the historic EU budget in the middle of the corona crisis has been delayed. The resistance of some member states to the organic regulations of the agricultural reform means that these can only come into force from 2023.

Important points such as biodiversity or sustainable production and food chains, essential components of the Green Deal of Commission , are not mentioned in the agricultural reform.

This keeps the green revolution in agriculture away. The EU agricultural reform is a step in the right direction. But in order to really promote climate and environmental protection in agriculture, the bar would have to be raised higher.

Author: Max Zander

China sacrifices its villages .
© Cheng Min / Xinhua-Réa 23048_1377498_k2_k1_3190106.jpg Pressed by Beijing, the prefectures are moving farmers to the outskirts of small towns to expand agricultural land. Often in a brutal way. In Shandong Province, on a small road in Binzhou Prefecture, the sign leading to Zhaibo still stands. But the village no longer exists. He was shaved in the spring. Until the end of May, it housed around 70 families who cultivated their corn and cotton fields and maintained their orchards.

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