During the EP AGRI Committee meeting held on the last day of August, the first after the summer break, the outcome of the study conducted by the Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies of the European Parliament was presented to the MEPs.
The research focused on providing information on the state of play of farm certification schemes and their contribution to sustainable agriculture, as well as analysing how these schemes can help the EU reach its sustainability objectives in the farming sector and be instrumental to the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy. The department investigated in depth 15 certification schemes and to what extent they would fulfil the statutory management requirements (SMR) and the standards for Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC). Risks of greenwashing and distortion of competition arising from the schemes have also been considered in the research.
MEPs welcomed the study, and thanked the experts for the work done. Nonetheless, all the political groups within the committee expressed doubts and raised concerns regarding a series of different elements such as the substantial quantity of CS present in the EU, the effectiveness of private schemes and the need of a public certification authority, while also focusing the attention on the lack of financial reward for farmers and the possible misinformation of consumers. Another point regarding the reliability of audit and checks systems was raised. The Commission also shared its opinion, highlighting the shortcomings of the study and calling for a thorough assessment of its outcomes.