Major gaps in Luxembourg agriculture policy, says EU
The European Commission has hit out at Luxembourg's strategy for implementing the EU's policy on agricultural subsidies, criticising it as vague in several areas and lacking clearly defined targets for meeting environmental goals.
The review of the country's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategy was published by the Commission this week, with the EU's executive arm urging all countries to revise their CAP plans to transition to a sustainable food supply chain in light of the invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and climate change.
Countries have been presenting updated national plans following reforms of the policy, agreed at the end of 2021 after two years of negotiations, aimed at making one of the EU's core schemes more environmentally-friendly and enabling the bloc to meet its climate targets.
However, while the Commission said Luxembourg "has taken into account most ... recommendations" made in 2020 by the EU's executive arm when drafting its strategy, it added that the country's plan still contains major gaps.
"The Commission considers that the coherence of the strategy for several areas... deserve to be better explained," the report states. "The proposed strategy does not sufficiently justify certain choices, in particular when it comes to meeting the needs of specific sectors, such as livestock or the fruit and vegetable sector."
Luxembourg's proposals for management of forests did not demonstrate how it will meet targets for carbon storage and protecting biodiversity, the Commission said, and the government has been urged to "supplement the plan".
The country was also criticised by the Commission for failing to detail how the strategy links up with other European and national funds, while there are also gaps in the plan in how Luxembourg plans to address the decline of nature, the Commission said.
Luxembourg should stop spending EU funds on farming without protecting nature first, a report by a government advisory body said in March, in which it warned that as much as 80% of wild plants and animals in the country were under threat.
Environmentalists have argued that the CAP undermines the objectives of the EU Green Deal - designed to ensure the bloc becomes climate neutral by 2050 – as it does not go far enough in ensuring emissions are reduced in farming, one of the economic sectors that pollutes the most and fails to address a loss of biodiversity.
A report by the bloc's auditor last year revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from EU agriculture had held steady over the previous decade, despite the EU investing more than €100 billion into measures to clean up farming of livestock and crops.
“The new legislation, which is due to begin in 2023, paves the way for a fairer, greener and more performance-based CAP,” the Commission said in its report this week.
Luxembourg's government should make more data showing which companies benefit from the EU farm subsidies visible to the public, the country's Commission on Access to Documents said last year, in a ruling against the agriculture ministry.
The ministry has refused to make historic numbers available beyond the two most recent years it publishes on its website, saying this would amount to disclosing personal data.
Governments are required under EU rules to publish information about CAP subsidies for a minimum of two years, but many countries - including Luxembourg - then remove it from public access, according to the Access Info Europe group who raised the case with the commission.
(Additional reporting by John Monaghan)