AGRI-Committee of the European Parliament adopts its report on CAP Strategic Plans regulation
On 2 April, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI Committee) of the European Parliament has adopted its reports on CAP Strategic Plans Regulation. This Regulation encompasses rural development interventions, which are of high importance for the forest sector. From a forest owner’s perspective, this report brings in both opportunities and concerns.

In June 2018, the European Commission released three legislative proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2021-2027, including a proposal of a Regulation “Support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States under the common agricultural policy and financed by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) 2021–2027”, i.e. CAP Strategic Plans regulations.

In July 2018 MEP Esther Herranz-Garcìa (EPP, ES) was appointed rapporteur by the European Parliament for this proposal. The file led to a rich debate with 5253 amendments being tabled by MEPs, and a further 670 by the six opinion-giving committees. In order to reach a coherent position and to facilitate the vote, the rapporteur negotiated over 130 compromise amendments, all carried in the report adopted by the AGRI Committee (27 in favour, 17 against, 0 abstention).

On a positive note from a forest owners’ perspective, the AGRI Committee report includes several additional references to forestry in the rural development interventions compared to the Commission proposal, making the role of forestry more visible. Among others welcomed additions are acknowledgment of the long-term nature of forestry and support to investments to restore forestry potential following a natural disaster and to maintain the health of forests.

On the down-turn, the report includes several aspects, which raise some concerns from a forest owners’ perspective, including the inclusion of “forest protection” in the CAP specific objective related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Sustainably managed forests sequester CO2 and provide renewable raw materials to substitute fossil-based alternatives. The best-long term climate change mitigation contribution of forest comes from active use of raw material that also enhances health of the resource. Therefore, contribution of forestry to climate change mitigation and adaptation should not be limited to forest protection.

The work of the European Parliament on the CAP proposals will resume under the next Parliamentary legislature. The new Parliament will decide on the next steps of the procedure.

In parallel, Member States continue to discuss on this proposal in the Council for elaborating their position.