Both in form and substance, it is worth noting the speed with which the Parliament and the Commission were able to work together.

With 425 votes in favor, 130 against and 33 abstentions, the European Parliament today approved the changes to the CAP proposed by the Commission on March 15.

Despite numerous amendments tabled by the Green, Left and S&D groups, only a few non-substantive changes to the Commission’s proposal were approved, reflecting the modifications made by the Council to ensure swift final adoption.

We recall that the changes introduced by the Commission and approved by the Council and Parliament focus mainly on cross-compliance:

GAEC 8, i.e. the obligation to allocate a minimum quota of arable land to non-productive areas (set-aside) or features (hedges, trees…), while maintaining the protection of existing landscape features, has been abolished. Instead, member states will have to establish an eco-scheme (compulsory for member states, voluntary for farmers) offering support to farmers to maintain a proportion of arable land in a non-productive state or to create new landscape features.

With regard to the GAEC 7 standard requiring crop rotation, the text allows member states to add the possibility of meeting this requirement through crop diversification.

The application of soil cover in sensitive periods (GAEC standard 6) will be left to the Member States, with a degree of flexibility.

A member state will be able to submit two amendments per year to its own strategic plan (as opposed to just one at present).

In addition, small-scale farmers whose agricultural area does not exceed 10 hectares will be exempt from cross-compliance checks and penalties.

These changes will apply retrospectively, from the 2024 application year, so there are transitional arrangements for 2024 to cover the time needed for member states to make the necessary changes to their CAP strategic plans for GAEC standards 6, 7 and 8 and for the Commission to approve them.

This week, the Parliament also decided not to oppose the Commission’s proposal to grant Member States greater flexibility in applying the CAP requirement to maintain the ratio of permanent grassland to agricultural area above 5% compared to 2018 (GAEC 1).