They are beautiful faces: farmers who farm organically and earn enough under clean drinking water for everyone and air, but how the Netherlands achieves this remains unclear.
In an extremely critical study, the European Commission is cracking down on the Dutch agricultural plan, which it has in the last days of December 2021. The plan is part of the European agricultural agreement that was concluded last summer between all EU member states. The European Commission finds the Dutch plan careless, lackluster consultation, and in some respects contradictory.
For example, the European Commission is wondering how the Netherlands will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other toxic gases in intensive livestock farming. That has ensured that are not included in the plan, the European Commission finds “a pity”.
There is no shortage of money. Rutte IV has made available through two funds to solve the climate and nitrogen problems. The European Commission wants to know how this money is spent. The plan must be ‘substantially improved’, the European Commission writes in its letter, which contains a laundry list of points for improvement.
Also read: New nitrogen scheme to buy out farmers seems to be counterproductive
Scared? The Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Quality of Agriculture, Food Staghouwer (CU), responded in an accompanying letter, which he sent to the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Nothing special, other EU countries receive letters from the same draw, he writes. It is part of the ‘negotiation process towards approval’ of the Dutch agricultural plan.
Yet it is almost inevitable that the criticism has struck a chord in The Hague. Because what the European Commission finds shows great goals at the national level to be placed in future agricultural policy. Staghouwer and colleague Minister Christianne van der Wal (VVD) acknowledge that Dutch agriculture will have to undergo a rigorous overhaul in order to achieve the nitrogen and climate targets, but it is not clear exactly how this will take shape in policy.
The European agricultural agreement was concluded last summer after two years of negotiations. The deal should ensure that agriculture is less burdened on the climate and nature. Nearly four billion euros are available for the plan over the five years – about a third of the total EU budget.
It is clear that the need for a more thorough policy becomes high a week before European agriculture becomes high a week before European agriculture: the European Court of Auditors has ruled that an increasing proportion of European agricultural subsidies has of course been spent on climate, but that this yielded little.
A version of this article also in NRC in the morning of April 8, 2022