Press release

European Parliament vote to tear apart EU’s Agri policy is ‘blatantly incompatible’ with the law – ClientEarth

24 April 2024

ClientEarth lawyers have called out the European Parliament after it voted through what they say is an illegal proposal to reform the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

According to ClientEarth, the revision of the CAP threatens the future of farming and jeopardises the EU’s ability to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises.

Prior to the European Parliament’s vote, the European Parliament's Legal Service was asked to assess the legality and compatibility of the measures to reform the CAP with existing laws. Despite the European Commission failing to conduct a climate assessment, which automatically puts the proposal in breach of EU law, the Legal Service refrained from reaching this conclusion. It argued that without a consistency assessment, it was unable to analyse the compatibility of the proposal with the EU’s climate objectives – a startling interpretation which casts doubt on the objectivity and impartiality of the Parliament’s lawyers.

ClientEarth lawyer Sarah Martin said: “By voting to tear apart the CAP’s environmental foundation, the European Parliament has chosen to unravel a policy that is supposed to serve farmers, people and the environment. Now, the CAP will do even less to support farmers. How can we secure their future and our ability to feed ourselves if we remove protections for nature, the very thing we depend on to be able to do so.

“What’s outrageous from a legal perspective is the blatant incompatibility of the revision with the CAP’s own rules, as well as other EU laws – like the European Climate Law. Any law student would be able to tell you that the mere fact that the European Commission failed to carry out a consistency assessment with the Climate Law is in itself illegal. How the Legal Service has failed to call this out is not clear and frankly alarming to us.”

As a civil society organisation, ClientEarth is unable to challenge the CAP’s revision directly. However, ClientEarth can bring a complaint to the EU Ombudsman, asking it to call the European Commission out on failing to respect peoples’ rights to information and to participation in the decision-making process when preparing the proposal.

Martin said: “As lawyers, we cannot stand by and let decision-makers unpick our democracy just to secure votes for the upcoming EU elections. This proposal has been put forward despite a total lack of transparency, public consultation, without an impact assessment, and against scientific evidence from authoritative EU and international bodies.

“We intend to take action and bring a complaint to the EU Ombudsman – this wrong should never be repeated.”


Notes to editors:

ClientEarth has published a legal analysis on the compatibility of the Commission’s proposal to revise components of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with certain parts of existing CAP regulations and other legal requirements and obligations.

The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change and the European Environment Agency both published reports this year (reports here and here, respectively) stressing that the EU must change course on agricultural emissions, which have remained largely unchanged for the past 20 years, and that the CAP does not currently contribute to climate mitigation.

Ahead of the EU elections, ClientEarth has published a manifesto calling on people to stand for a new legal approach for a thriving EU with its.

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.