Delivering on the future CAP objectives

The European Commission presented its proposal for the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform in 2018, introducing a new way of working to modernise and simplify the EU’s policy on agriculture. It is based on a more flexible, performance and results-based approach that takes into account local conditions and needs, while increasing the European Union’s ambitions in terms of sustainability. The new CAP is built around nine common EU objectives and the cross-cutting objective on knowledge and innovation, which are also the basis upon which EU countries design their CAP strategic plans.

Member States will implement the future CAP with the so-called “CAP strategic plan” at national level. These plans will combine a wide range of targeted interventions addressing the Member States’ specific needs and delivering tangible results in relation to EU-level objectives, while contributing to the Green Deal ambition. Member States thus produce a thorough assessment of their needs based on a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of their territory and agri-food sector.

The Commission is supporting Member States throughout the whole process of preparation of their CAP strategic plan so that:

  • Member States take full advantage of the future CAP and its instruments to support their farmers in the transition towards increased sustainability of our food systems.
  • Each CAP strategic plan includes an intervention strategy explaining how each EU country will use CAP instruments to achieve the CAP objectives, in keeping with the Green Deal ambition.

Related information

Analysis of policy objectives

Alignment with the European Green Deal

Earlier in 2020, a Commission report examined the contribution of the CAP reform proposal to the EU’s environmental, climate, and biodiversity protection commitments set in the European Green Deal. The report also identified the steps needed to make the future CAP fully compatible with the Green Deal and its strategies such as the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

This includes the provision of Commission recommendations, in the framework of the structured dialogue between the Commission and EU countries to guarantee that the future CAP strategic plans fully support the transition foreseen in the Green Deal.

CAP strategic plans recommendations

The Commission provided each EU country with tailor-made recommendations, accompanied by a communication. They aim to assist in the drafting of the national CAP strategic plans by identifying the key areas on which each EU country should focus.

Based on an analysis of their agricultural sector and rural areas, the recommendations aim to ensure:

  • The achievement of the nine specific CAP objectives, touching upon environmental, social and economic challenges and a cross-cutting objective on knowledge and innovation.
  • The compliance with Green Deal ambitions and more specifically six Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategy targets. These are quantified EU level targets on use and risk of pesticides, sales of antimicrobials, nutrient loss, area under organic farming, high diversity landscape features and access to fast broadband internet. The Commission asks Member States to determine specific national values for these targets and align their CAP strategic plans thereto.

CAP strategic plans fit for purpose

The Commission is tasked to approve the CAP strategic plans, once officially submitted by the Member States. During the approval process, which will be based on the criteria laid down in the future CAP strategic plan regulation, the Commission will use the recommendations as an important reference document to assess the plans.

The specific timeline regarding the CAP strategic plans, including the formal submission by Member States and the Commission’s approval, will depend on the outcome of the negotiations with the co-legislators. However, the Commission’s ambition is for a political agreement to be concluded by spring 2021. Member States would then have until 1 January 2022 to submit their plans. The Commission will work to scrutinise and approve the plans, in time for their application as of 1 January 2023.

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