The European Commision has published a highly critical response to the Netherlands plans to reform its farm policy and cut emissions in line with the new EU Common Agricultural Policy, saying they show a lack of care, are not well-supported and in some cases, conflict with each other.
‘The many missing, incomplete or inconsistent elements of the plan… raise serious concerns on the consistency between identified needs and the intervention strategy and do not allow a thorough assessment of its ambition,’ the commission says in its response.
‘Regrettably,’ the commission says, ‘the Netherlands has not defined any result indicators or target values for key areas such as climate adaptation and mitigation, air quality, pesticide use, water quality and nutrient management’.
The commission goes on to suggest that the government do more to make it attractive to switch to organic farming and to reduce the environmental impact of factory farming.
There are also ‘inconsistencies in financial information’, the commission says.
European farm strategy for the next five years was agreed last summer after two years of talks. The aim is to reduce the impact of farming in Europe on the environment and on nature and the new CAP has a budget of almost €400 billion.
The Dutch share of this plus the government’s €35 billion climate transition fund and €25 billion fund for rural areas does show there is significant budget for addressing the challenges related to agriculture with regards to biodiversity, climate and the environment, the commission said.
Farm minister Henk Staghouwer had told MPs that the commission’s comments are nothing out of the ordinary, and are part of the ‘negotiation process on the way to approval’.
Nevertheless, the criticism will have hit home in The Hague, given both Staghouwer and Christianne der Wal, charged with tackling nitrogen-based pollution, recognise reform is needed but have not yet made it clear how they plan to do this, the NRC said in its analysis.
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