The new German government coalition’s agricultural plans
Germany sets course for digital progress, animal welfare, organic farming and the post-2027 CAP
Following trilateral negotiations between the Socialists, the Greens and the Liberals (FDP), a 178-pages coalition agreement has been presented, paving the way for a new German government led by the red/green/yellow coalition.
An important part of this programme is devoted to the ecological transition, food and energy issues, as well as the strategy that will be carried forward by Berlin at European level. The digitisation of the society is one of the major cross-cutting projects supported by the agreement, a project that impact the entire programme of the coalition, which has the ambition of a “global digital revival” for Germany.
In agriculture, two major priorities clearly stand out: the in-depth transformation of the livestock sector, with sources of funding to help the industry adaptation, and the development of organic farming.
It is also announced that the Common Agricultural Policy will be reviewed with a view to “adequately replacing direct payments ” by 2027.
The overall objective of the new coalition is to move towards “sustainable and viable agriculture, in which farmers can carry out an economically viable activity that respects the environment, animals and the climate”. This should be based on “regional value chains and contribute to the maintenance of rural structures”.
Animal welfare is the central project of the German coalition for the next few years in the field of agriculture, with important implications on a European scale, the ambition being to have binding standards at EU level.
It is planned to introduce “as early as 2022” mandatory labelling for livestock farming that also covers transport and slaughter, and at a later stage full origin labelling. An ambitious investment plan is foreseen to improve animal welfare, involving all links in the chain in its financing. The plan should not generate administrative burdens, it is stressed.
A number of important control measures on the chain are announced, such as video surveillance of slaughterhouses, a limitation of live animal exports to animal welfare corridors, and an extension of the TRACES database.
Part of the Animal Welfare Act will be transferred to criminal law and accompanied by increased sanctions. A commissioner’s office for animal protection will be established.
Common Agricultural Policy.
Germany has stated its intention to move quickly with the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, and to look to the future already with a reflection on the next CAP after 2027. A mid-term reform of the CAP architecture national plan is announced, which will be accompanied by reflections on the post-2027 CAP plans, which will focus on the « adequate replacement of direct payments to finance environmental and climate services”.
Reducing meat consumption is seen as a priority for the new coalition’s nutrition policy, as well as the establishment of a nutrition policy for children, aiming to limit excess sugar, fat and salt. Alternative proteins will be promoted.
In 2023, a nutrition strategy will be adopted in consultation with stakeholders.
At the European level, Germany is in favour of a scientifically based and understandable Nutriscore and a reinforcement of the labelling of the ecological footprint of products.
The orientation of German agriculture towards sustainable and organic farming is widely stated, with a target of 30% organic farming by 2030, the end of glyphosate in 2023, and the limitation of pesticides to the strict minimum, while stressing the need to develop solutions and preserve rapid decision-making. The paragraph on plant protection is balanced in its wording, with mention of the need to reform the authorisation process at European level, and to increase transparency.
The selection of climate change resistant seeds is highlighted, as well as the desire for transparency in breeding methods, strengthening research on risks and detection.
The digitalisation of agriculture is also mentioned as a fundamental orientation, with in particular the development of open source data, under the authority of the public authorities.
A protein strategy is also announced.
Energy and climate.
With regard to the energy transition, the focus is on electrification and green hydrogen, and the implementation of decarbonised electricity production using gas and renewable gas in the short and medium term to ensure the transition.
A new start for the sustainable use of biomass is announced, without further details at this stage.
Clear support is given to the “Fit for 55” package presented by the European Commission, with instruments that are as technology neutral as possible. Support is given to the ETS mechanism, including in transport, and to the principle that « what is bad for the climate should cost more ».
On the European institutions, the new coalition takes the opposite view to the previous government, showing ambitious support for the process of institutional reform of the European Union launched by President Macron through the Conference on the Future of Europe, with a view to greater federalism.
Germany is now in favour of the principle of a convention that would pave the way for a reform of the treaties, and defends the idea of challenging the exclusivity of the right of initiative currently in the hands of the Commission and opening it up to the European Parliament, as well as the development of transnational lists and a candidate of European parties for the future president of the Commission.
Germany takes up the principle stated by France that it will go as far as possible with 27 member states, but will not hesitate to develop a deeper relationship with a group of member states that wishes to go further. Reforms in view of the 2024 elections are envisaged, aiming at strengthening the European Parliament (right of initiative) and the transnational dimension of the European debate (European parties, Spizenkandidat, etc.).