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2019/11 A cap for Pollinators
Article mis en ligne le 22 novembre 2019

A CAP for Pollinators - BeeLife’s proposals for the future of agriculture and pollinators in Europe

The Common Agricultural Policy represents approximately 40 per cent of the total budget of the European Union. Only in 2018, the EU provided over 58 billion euros of support to farmers [1]. It is one of the most crucial policy areas in the EU, having a direct impact on the economy and food safety. It also has direct effects on the landscape through the financing of agricultural activity. However, the current model can still be improved. We need to address the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment and pollinators and restructure public investment to improve, not deteriorate, environmental conditions. BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination proposes key measures within the new CAP to help provide better conditions for pollinators. We also recommend how pollinators can become even stronger allies for agriculture and help measure policy efficacy.

We release our latest document A CAP for Pollinators : How the new CAP may support pollinators and pollinators benefit the new CAP. Within the document, we review several tools under the CAP that can be improved to help pollinators. By paying particular attention to specific tools under the first and second pillars, we provide insights into how to have a more pollinator-friendly agriculture in Europe. We also insist on the development and implementation of a Pollinator Index [2], which can help authorities measure the impact of their policies.

European institutions are currently revising the CAP. They must conclude and vote on its adoption for the post-2020 policy that will enter into force. After elections in May 2019, the newly constituted European Parliament had to face a decision, whether to vote the text which had been drafted in the last mandate or to reopen negotiations. Members of the European Parliament decided the latter. Regional and national authorities continue to explore the possible shaping of their National Action Plans that fall in line with a future CAP. To help authorities create a more responsible policy, we offer our perspective focusing on the vital role of pollinators.

We insist that the CAP must consider the proper value that pollinators have for agriculture and nature. To achieve this, some measures within the CAP deserve special consideration. Under pillar I, Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs) and Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) provide an excellent opportunity to assure a brighter future for bees and pollinators in general.

For instance, we encourage all measures within the GAECs and SMRs that aim at multiplying the nutritional and habitat resources for biodiversity. Nevertheless, they need to be implemented in parallel with a reduction of pesticide use. Besides, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) must be included as a criterion for payment. IPM "emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms"[3].

We also propose a Pollinator Eco-scheme, a ’package’ of good pollinator practices that are considered the eligibility criteria for a farmer to benefit from this particular eco-scheme. Eco-schemes are a unique opportunity to invest, incentivise and reward farmers for going beyond the mandatory requirements of enhanced conditionality. The pollinator eco-scheme would entail beneficial measures for bees and pollinators, such as including at least 10% of crops interesting to pollinators. Measures also include crop diversification, beekeeping-farmer engagement, and avoiding preventive or persistent use of pesticides, among others.

Tools in pillar II are also taken into account. These include :

Agri-Environment-Climate Measures (AECMs) - focusing on environmentally-friendly production systems, precision and organic farming, renewable energy and economy.
Farm Advisory Services (FAS) - FAS experts need to be trained into pollinators needs and threats so they can provide the best advice possible to farmers in terms of pollinator and environmental sustainability.
Investment subsidies - an opportunity for investment in techniques that are non-harmful for bees and pollinators (i.e. droplegs techniques, autonomous robots instead of herbicides, Big Data, RFID sensors, pheromones, satellite imaging, precision agriculture).
AKIS - improving Agri/Apicultural practices and cooperation.

The reform of the CAP presents a significant opportunity to improve environmental conditions in general and for bees and other pollinators. We propose to highlight the value that pollinators have for our ecosystems. Through correctly targetted measures in the CAP, authorities can better ensure an advance in pollinator protection, effectively transforming conditions in the field. We foresee the possibility for bee-friendly discourses to translate into effective policy. This document aims at providing the necessary insights to achieve better environmental conditions for bees, pollinators in general and biodiversity.

Download the full document

[1] European Commission, 2019, The Common Agricultural Policy at a Glance, recovered from https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-agricultural-policy/cap-glance_en
[2] BeeLife, 2019, Pollinatorsas Indicators in Policy Affecting the Landscape and Environment, recovered from https://link.bee-life.eu/PollinatorIndex
[3] Integrated Pest Management, as defined by the European Commission :
https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/pesticides/sustainable_use_pesticides/ipm_en

NOTE TO EDITORS : BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination is an association formed by beekeepers from different countries of the European Union. It works for the protection of bees, pollinators and biodiversity, based on the principle that ’bees serve as the canary in the gold mine, sounding the alarm that something is wrong in the environment’. BeeLife is currently a member of the Save the Bees Coalition, a registered stakeholder in the EU Bee Partnership, and a partner in the European-funded project, the Internet of Bees.