Fears EU funding cut will harm biodiversity
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- Agriculture ,
EU payments to help farmers protect wildlife could be under threat due to budget cuts, warn the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
The RSPB has voiced concerns that under the new EU budget, due to be published on 29 June 2011, spending under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) cut considerably.
According to the wildlife charity, there are rumours that money will be saved by removing funding for the Pillar Two subsidies that support initiatives promoting wildlife-friendly and protecting biodiversity.
RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said the group was staggered by the possible move, which it labelled as a “devastating blow” to the environment and the long-term future of farming.
“Rewarding farmers for protecting threatened wildlife has provided a lifeline to many sensitive species, which would otherwise have ebbed away,” he said.
“If the EU continues with this plan, there is no doubt that wildlife will suffer, with the possible ultimate UK extinction of some threatened species, including the turtle dove and the cirl bunting.”
A Defra spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that the CAP budget needed to be cut substantially, but that it too was concerned by the rumours that Pillar Two was to take the brunt of the cuts.
"Pillar Two is better value for money, contributing to economic growth, supporting the environment and agricultural competitiveness, and should have a larger share of a smaller CAP budget," the spokesperson confirmed.
Harper said that cutting Pillar Two funding would equate to reneging on the EU pledge to halt the decline in wildlife by 2020.
“If the European Commission president approves this budget, he risks erasing wildlife from the map of Europe, breaking promises and undermining decades of conservation effort, which has spared the greatest wildlife losses. Cuts to agri-environment funding would be totally unacceptable.”
The news came as the European Council endorsed the recently published EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, and confirmed it was deeply concerned that Europe had missed its biodiversity targets in 2010.
In a statement the council emphasised the need to take action to integrate the strategy into relevant policies, including the CAP, and called on the commission to incorporate biodiversity measures and concerns in its proposals for the legislative framework of the next future financial perspectives – the EU’s multi-annual financial framework review.
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