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Brussels asks France to review its copy of the CAP

The French government will have to revise its copy. Its national strategic plan (PSN), which will decline on the scale of France the next common agricultural policy (CAP) for the period 2023-2027, lacks environmental ambition, according to the European Commission. In a letter sent on March 31 to France, revealed and published by the information site Context on April 4, Brussels lists a series of criticisms. As the Commission is responsible for the final validation of the strategic plans, it sent its feedback to nineteen Member States whose plans it had time to analyze, leaving them three weeks to respond.

According to the 34-page document, the content of which was confirmed at the World several sources, the Commission considers that France’s strategic plan “only partially supports the ecological transition of the agricultural and forestry sectors”. A tool set up by France is particularly criticized: the high environmental value certification (HVE), which will allow farmers to access eco-schemes, the green payment provided for in the future CAP. The Commission notes “with concern” that this label would offer the same level of remuneration as organic farming, ” whereas [son] specifications are much less restrictive ».

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Since the presentation of France’s PSN in May 2021, the inclusion of HVE certification in eco-schemes has come under fire from critics. The Ministry of Agriculture has indicated its intention to revise the conditions for access to HVE, but the future specifications are not yet known. “In this context, France is asked either to postpone the inclusion of options for access to the eco-regime through HVE certification, (…) either suspend these options in the PSN”writes Brussels.

“Risk of deconversion”

“The shortcomings of the PSN that have been reported for months have been identified by the Commissionreacts the ecologist MEP Benoît Biteau. The HVE is one of the weaknesses of the French plan – it is not the only one, but it is revealing. Far from being an intermediate step towards organic, the HVE is a switch that diverts farmers from organic. »

More generally, the Commission feels “concerned about the overall design of the eco-scheme as well as the low level of environmental and climate ambition proposed”. She offers a “third level of payment rewarding farmers for adopting the most virtuous practices, as well as a specific bonus for Natura 2000 areas or habitats of species covered by the Nature directives”. A demand expressed by organic farmers who want their environmentally friendly practices to be financially recognized.

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