BirdLife Report Finds Link Between Subsidies and Poor Environmental Performance

A new report launched by BirdLife International finds that current CAP spending intensity is not reflecting any nature conservation priorities nor supporting nature-friendly farms in three key European countries.

The new report presents studies carried out in Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic using CAP subsidy data crossed with environmental performance indicators to answer the question: “Does the current CAP support farmers engaged in sustainable practices and delivering environmental public goods?”

The main results are:

  • Subsidy intensity has never been found to reflect conservation values or level of public goods delivery;
  • Where subsidies are based on historical reference (which is the situation in most ‘old Member States’) there is still a perverse link between subsidy intensity and poor environmental performance, such as depleted and polluted groundwater, lack of landscape elements, etc.;
  • Flat rate payments (which is the system used in most ‘new Member States’) seem to remove the perverse subsidy effect but fail to properly reward farmers that deliver public goods (farmers engaged in best practices and worst practices receiving the same amount of subsidies);
  • Still widespread problem of very high payments going to farms actively destroying biodiversity or to farms that are delivering virtually no public goods;
  • Widespread failure to fund the Natura 2000 network despite repeated claims by the EU that the CAP is a major funding source for management of the EU’s only system of protected areas.

The release of CAP beneficiaries’ data is finally allowing a proper investigation of CAP quality of spending and this report is one of the first attempts to actually measure the environmental performance of the EU subsidy system. Unfortunately the quality of data released by Member States is often poor and not homogenous enough to allow for proper EU wide analysis. BirdLife International hopes that this study will be used by other organizations and government bodies as an example to perform more in debt and EU wide analysis.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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21 Jul 2010




BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.