Germany leads objection to specific biodiversity goals in the CAP.

A call for specific biodiversity goals to be integrated into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was abandoned at the insistence of Germany during a meeting of environment ministers in Brussels today (19 December).

In its proposal for a biodiversity strategy to 2020, the European Commission had listed several types of biodiversity concerns that should be dealt with under the CAP. But several member states objected to this, saying it prejudged the outcome of ongoing talks among agriculture ministers to reform the CAP.

The Polish presidency of the Council of Ministers put forward a proposal changing the list to theoretical “examples,” but this was still not acceptable to Germany. After several hours of discussion, Germany succeeded in having the entire paragraph on biodiversity objectives for the CAP deleted in the final version approved by ministers. Germany’s environment ministry was under strict orders from its agriculture ministry not to accept any list of possible biodiversity requirements for CAP, according to a source involved in the discussions.

Campaign group BirdLife Europe said the deletion was symptomatic of an overall fear by environment ministers of clashing with ongoing discussions in other Council meetings. The UK was able to water down language on funding for the environmental funding programme Life, saying it prejudges ongoing discussions over the multiannual financial framework. Language on fisheries was also made vaguer.

Ariel Brunner, head of European policy at BirdLife, said the decision was a worrying sign that environmental goals would not be taken seriously in upcoming discussions on agriculture, fisheries and budget reform. “Looking at environment ministers compromising for hours on the protection of what should be the core of their political mandate – biodiversity – is a dangerous preview of the fate of biodiversity left completely in the hands of agriculture ministers,” she said.

Janez Potočnik, the European commissioner for the environment, issued a statement condemning the deletion of the list, adding that the Commission would continue to push for biodiversity objectives to be made part of the CAP during the reform discussions.

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