Poor Socialist Performance in Spanish Agriculture

Environment - January 8, 2024

On 15 June, the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, the House’s think tank, published a comparative analysis of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) national strategic plans in view of their contribution to the European Union’s climate objectives.

Indeed, Member States are forced to present their respective strategies towards the ideological targets required by Mrs. von der Leyen’s team – despite the ECR having repeatedly warned of the tensions, inconsistencies, negative impacts and ultimate failures entailed by such ecological radicalism behind the European Commission President’s so called “Green Deal”.

In the case of Spain, the analysis reflects a worrying deterioration in that Member State’s position regarding the financing of its primary sector, following the management of Pedro Sánchez’s socialist and communist government coalition.  It also indicates considerable shortcomings in the national strategic plan prepared by the Madrid executive.

In view of the disastrous plan, ECR Party’s Vice-President Jorge Buxadé Villalba asked the Commission why there is a decrease in the percentage of planned funding through direct payments to Spain in the framework period, compared to expenditure in the 2015-2020 period.

By answer letter of 28 September, European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz C. Wojciechowski recalled that the total amount of direct payments available to Spain in the six years of 2015-2020 was ca. EUR 29.227 billion, with a yearly average of EUR 4.871.320 billion; whereas the total amount of direct payments for the five years of the period 2023-2027 adds up to EUR 24.440 billion, that is, a yearly average of EUR 4.888.019 billion. Therefore, according to the Polish official, there is in fact “a slightly higher” direct payments budget per year in the new period allocated to Spain.

This response is hard to be taken seriously.  The Commissioner’s “slight” increase is 0.3%, practically marginal.  On top of that, it does not incorporate inflation.  Moreover, it is explicitly contradicted by page 27 of the Parliament’s analysis, which shows a 2.5% decrease, also without counting inflation.  Perhaps the PiS’s former politician is having his replies prepared by some Brussel’s bureaucrats that should protect the professional image of their department with higher regard.

Mr. Buxadé also pointed out that the annual funding intensity per hectare in Spain, under the socialist government, is the lowest in the Union, together with Latvia, Portugal and Romania.  This was not denied by the Commissioner.  He explained that intensity depends on farmers’ choices to participate, or not, in eco-schemes.

We see here a clear negative impact of the Green Deal.  If Spanish farmers do not wish to participate in such eco-schemes, then they are allowed lower funds.  The Commissioner tried to minimise this effect, by adding that Spain’s funding is “very close” to France, Croatia, or Finland.  Again, we would recommend Mr. Wojciechowski that he refers to figure 7 on page 29 of the Parliament analysis, where 24 out of 27 Member States receive higher funding than that allocated to Spanish farmers due to the poor socialist national policy.  In particular, France, Croatia and Finland receive between EUR 50 and EUR 450 more by utilised agricultural area.

Finally, the VOX Member of the European Parliament stressed that the current Spanish Government’s plan shows the lowest protection of water quality in the EU 27.  Once more, the conservative Commissioner seemed to justify Mr. Sánchez’s performance through a supposedly “combined approach of regulatory and voluntary support tools related to sustainable pesticide and nutrient management”.  Despite the more the highly dubious legitimacy of such pesticide policy, the Commission refers to a large farm regulatory strategy beginning on 1 January 2024.  We hope that such new year’s resolutions on behalf of his department will account for a better water performance than that so far observed by Parliament, last in class.