Should the common agricultural policy be deleted

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The Institute for Agroecology and Biodiversity (IFAB) and the Thünen Institute examined the effectiveness of the EFA on biological diversity and its nationwide implementation in two research projects on behalf of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

"As a result, these studies, which have been carried out since 2015, show that the ecological focus areas in their previous form did not add any added value for biological diversity in agricultural landscapes. This is one of the reasons why the 'green' goals of the GAP are largely missed in the current funding period," BfN said -President Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel said: "In order to stop the decline in biological diversity in the EU, more effective measures are needed, both in terms of scope and quality. For this purpose, scientific data such as that of the authors of this paper should be used in the GAP reform process. "

"For the CAP after 2020, only measures may be implemented that provide verifiable real added value for biodiversity in terms of quality and quantity", demands Dr. Rainer Oppermann, director of the IFAB. "The results from our research projects provide the scientific basis and very specific recommendations for this."

The EU Commission's new implementation model for the CAP after 2020 gives the EU member states the opportunity to address specific environmental problems in a targeted manner and to use the proposed CAP strategic plan to develop a suitable national way of achieving the EU requirements and goals. The authors of the studies emphasize that it is imperative that the national leeway is used so that Germany does not again fail to meet its biodiversity protection goals.

"Specifically, this means that the federal and state environmental and nature conservation authorities must be effectively involved in the process in order to achieve ecological improvements in agri-environmental and climate measures, such as a greater minimum width and better networking of flowering and protection strips. This is necessary At the same time, there is an overarching cooperation between environmental and nature conservation and agriculture, which unfortunately is still not a matter of course, "explains BfN President Jessel.

Since taking over the EU Council Presidency on July 1, 2020, the Federal Government has played an important moderator role within the EU. "This is a great opportunity for Germany to decisively advance the further development of the EU biodiversity and agricultural policy post-2020," said Dr. Rainer Oppermann, director of the IFAB. "This will only succeed if the way for a sustainable CAP in line with the European Green Deal is paved and the national strategic plan is accordingly ambitiously drawn up."

Central recommendations from the studies

  1. Significantly positive effects for biodiversity are only achieved with a share of at least ten percent of high-quality EFA such as fallow and flowering areas, buffer strips and landscape elements; Currently, for example, the proportion of fallow land in arable land is only around three percent.
  2. For species in the open landscape such as the skylark, so-called in-crop measures are also required, i.e. production-integrated measures such as the cultivation of grain with double the seed row spacing without the use of pesticides and with reduced fertilization.
  3. As in arable land, high-quality EFAs are required in grassland. A cultivation period of at least eight weeks in spring / early summer should be observed on a minimum portion of the grassland, for example to enable ground-breeders to reproduce successfully.
  4. For many species, it is important that the measures are over or several years old: for example, the flowering areas should definitely exist through the winter until the following summer, so that animals can overwinter there and have nesting and breeding opportunities in spring.
  5. The ecological effectiveness of EFAs is also influenced by administrative requirements: for example, minimum administrative requirements such as the annual mulching of complete fallow land should be abolished and the combination of EFAs with qualification measures from the second pillar of the CAP should be made easier for farmers.
  6. The willingness of farmers to implement multi-year and true-to-site fallow land should be increased by reducing bureaucratic obstacles. Perennial fallow land that is true to its location is of paramount importance for the preservation of biodiversity in arable landscapes.

The publication "Biodiversity in the Common Agricultural Policy (GAP) of the EU after 2020" is available for download as a PDF file on the BfN website.


The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) serves primarily to promote agriculture, but so far it has also been the most important instrument of the EU for the targeted promotion of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. The way it is structured and implemented nationally is for the conservation of biological diversity of central importance in the agricultural landscape. With the Green Deal, the biodiversity and farm-to-fork strategy for 2030, the COM is attempting to convert the EU to a sustainable growth model with a global role model, including all relevant sectors. The CAP is seen as an important instrument for achieving the stated goals.

In the course of the 2013 CAP reform, "greening" was supposed to make a basic contribution to nature, environmental and climate protection in addition to the agri-environmental and climate protection measures, and the CAP was to be "greened". The "ecological priority areas" (ÖVF) were the central greening component for nature conservation for arable landscapes. With the EFA, the EU Commission (COM) explicitly pursued the goal of achieving positive effects for the preservation of biological diversity.

According to the proposal by the COM to realign the CAP after 2020 from June 2018, it is planned to discontinue greening in its current form. As part of the newly introduced conditionality, however, obligations to implement a certain minimum amount of biodiversity-relevant measures are to be introduced for premium recipients. The research results on the effectiveness of EFAs can provide important suggestions for their design in Germany's National Strategic Plan to be drawn up for this purpose.

Source: Joint press release by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the Institute for Agroecology and Biodiversity (IFAB)