Polish Deputy Prime Minister calls on Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to resign

On 09/02/2024, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz called on the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski, to resign. The call was also supported by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, President of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which Wojciechowski represented in the European Parliament from 2010 to 2016. Kaczynski added that the decision on whether Wojciechowski resigns is in the hands of the commissioner alone. Kosiniak-Kamysz said that the work of Commissioner Wojciechowski has resulted in the majority of European farmers opposing the rules proposed and adopted by the European Commission for the agricultural sector. Following waves of protests in European countries, protests have also been launched in Poland, from 09/02/2024 to at least 09/03/2024.

During the meeting of the Common Agricultural Policy Committee, the Member States expressed their negative opinion on the European Commission's proposal to grant a partial derogation from the application of the GAEC 8 standard

On 01/02/2024, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new exemption from the application of the rules on the conservation of non-productive features on arable land (GAEC 8). In its proposal, the Commission is in favor of giving Member States the possibility to decide that farmers can exceptionally and temporarily meet the first requirement of the GAEC 8 standard in an alternative way as regards 2024. The 7% condition should be maintained, but farmers should also be able to meet the 7% requirement through the cultivation of nitrogen fixing crops or intercrops (see the 04/02/2024 newsletter for details). The exemption should be limited to 2024 only and should not affect the rules in subsequent years. The other requirements of GAEC 8, including, for example, the conservation of landscape features, should remain in force for 2024. The European Commission proposal was discussed by Member States at the meeting of the Common Agricultural Policy Committee on 09/02/2024, which expressed a negative opinion on the proposal. AT, BE, CY, CZ, DK, EL, FI, FR, HR, HU, IE, LV, LT, LU, MT, NL, SK, SK and SE voted in favor of the proposal; BG, IT, PL and RO voted against; EE, DE, PT and ES abstained.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development supports adjusting direct payment system for inflation up to 10%, changes could be financed from national budgets

Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski supported adjusting the direct payment system for inflation by up to 10%, with the changes to be financed from national budgets. The Commissioner made the remarks as part of the European Commission's reflection on possible solutions to the protests of European farmers. This is one of three options mentioned by the Commissioner. The funding could fall under the temporary state aid framework adopted in response to the exceptional circumstances caused by the war in Ukraine. The second option, according to the Commissioner, could be to exempt farmers from sanctions and certain requirements, justified by exceptional circumstances, including the already proposed exemption from the application of Art. 8 of the Treaty. A third option could be to ease the burden of proof for direct aids to address the excessive bureaucracy of the direct payment system, in particular for eco-schemes.

The European Commission has put forward a proposal for Climate Targets for 2040 in the form of a non-legally binding Communication

On 06/02/2024, the European Commission presented a proposal for the Union's climate targets for 2040. The document builds on the FitFor55 package, which set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2030 (55%) and the European Green Deal, which set a climate neutrality target for 2050. By 2040, the Commission's proposal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union by 90% compared to 1990 levels.
More information is available here.

European Commission President proposes to the College of Commissioners to withdraw the Commission proposal on the sustainable use of pesticides

On 06/02/2024, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during the European Parliament plenary session that she would submit a proposal to the other Commissioners to withdraw the European Commission's June 2022 proposal on the sustainable use of pesticides. The official reason mentioned by the Commission President in her speech is that the issue of pesticide reduction in the European Union has long polarized society, and the ongoing protests by European farmers in a number of EU countries have also played a role.
More information is available here.