European Union negotiators this week failed to agree reforms to the bloc's huge farming subsidy programme, with talks due to resume in June on rules to protect small farms and curb agriculture's environmental impact.
The EU is nearing the end of a three-year struggle to reform its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP will spend the roughly one-third of the EU's 2021-2027 budget - €387 billion ($471.91 billion) - on payments to farmers and support for rural development, with the new rules kicking in from 2023.
Farming Subsidy Reforms
The revamp aims to curb the environmental impact of agriculture, which is the most frequently reported source of pressure on Europe's habitats and species and is responsible for 10% of EU greenhouse gas emissions.
'Ultimately, although progress was made in several areas, a number of key issues remained outstanding. It was therefore decided to postpone talks until the next meeting of agriculture and fisheries ministers in June,' EU member states said in a statement on Friday.
After all-night talks on Thursday, EU member states failed to find a compromise to put forward in negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission. Formal negotiations would resume in June, an EU official said.
EU agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said negotiators came "very close" to a deal.
"We will not sacrifice the rights of farmers, consumers or the environment," said Eric Andrieu, one of the EU lawmakers leading the talks.
Unresolved issues include how much cash to spend on 'eco-schemes' to protect the environment, such as organic farming or re-wetting peatlands to absorb CO2.
Campaigners have said the proposals would fail to align agriculture with EU climate goals, and allow the majority of funds to be spent on polluting forms of industrial farming.
Other rules under discussion would divert cash from big landowners and businesses to smaller farms, set standards for working conditions, and form a crisis fund in case agricultural markets are disrupted by an emergency such as a pandemic.
EU negotiators began two days of talks on Tuesday on a plan designed to make the bloc's huge farming subsidies greener and fairer, although campaigners question its environmental impact.