The European Parliament easily passed a massive farm subsidy bill on Friday, to the fury of environmental activists who say it falls well short of EU commitments to fight climate change.
EU subsidies to farmers are massive, compromising roughly one third all of all bloc spending for member states. In the budget proposal for 2021 to 2027 under discussion, 387 billion euros is earmarked for agriculture.
“With all due respect to the opponents of the reform, who have very often constantly discredited its progress, we are today adopting a balanced text whose objectives correspond to the realities on the ground,” French MEP Anne Sander insisted.
The subsidies are prized by farming states, most notably France, Ireland and eastern European nations, where farmers have a strong political influence.
“Unfortunately, the CAP report is adopted,” Greens MEP Bas Eickhout lamented.
Activists are furious that only 20 percent of the planned spending will be devoted to climate friendly policies.
The MEPs’ vote on Friday sets their position for upcoming talks with member state governments, which agreed on their own negotiating stance earlier this week.
Ahead of the vote, Leading climate change activist Greta Thunberg told MEPs that “this is your chance to turn empty words into action.”
“The eyes of future generations are upon you,” she added.
Thunberg has also taken shots at the media for putting what she regards as underserved attention on a minor aspect of the package — a proposed ban on using the term “veggie burger” for non-meat products.
The proposal, pushed by cattle and dairy farmers, was rejected as an amendment by MEPs on Friday — although a ban on using “yoghurt style” and “cheese substitute” tags on plant-based goods survived.