The fight over farming
It is not often that technical negotiations about European policies reach Tiktok or Instagram, but at the end of last year, we suddenly saw hashtags and memes about one of Europe’s biggest budget posts: the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In light of increased attention on the – potential – greening of the CAP, what did European media report last week when negotiations crashed?
You'll find the script below :
“Europe’s farm fail” – headlined Politico last week when negotiations over a greener European Agricultural Policy crashed. One by one, the bloc’s member states pulled back on plans for greener kinds of farming.
How did Europe’s media report on the failed negotiations?
It was quite surprising how much attention the CAP (the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy) negotiations received on social media this year, as well as on the streets. “It is not often that European legislation reaches Tiktok or Instagram. But in October, it suddenly rained memes about one of the most important areas of European policy” stated Clara van de Wiel in Dutch newspaper NRC. Discussions on the greening of the CAP were widely shared by climate activists, amongst Greta Thunberg, who argued in a video “we should share hashtags on social media, since national media are not reporting about this.” “Of all the hyper-technical and bureaucratic negotiations that take place in Brussels, those concerning the renewal of the agricultural policy are traditionally the most inscrutable” argues van de Wiel.
Did the negotiations also receive more attention in the national traditional press?
Well, not quite yet. Attention to the negotiations in the national press was still low. “The CAP swallows up more money than any other EU post”, but hardly anyone notices when the decision is made on who will benefit from it the next 7 years, argues Merlind Theile in German newspaper Der Zeit, who also believes that no one will probably even read her article. Even if engagement on social media and in the streets increased, 27% of EU citizens do not even know what the CAP is, and the trend is increasing, she writes.
Okay, so still few journalists risk getting their fingers burnt with a long read on the EU’s biggest budget post. But how did they report on the actual outcomes of the negotiations?
“EU governments showed their true colours on reforming the bloc’s mammoth farm policy this week – and that colour’s not green” concluded Eddy Wax and Gabriela Galindo in Politico, when this time’s negotiations resulted in a clash between national governments, the European Parliament and EU officials. Even if the urgence to implement an ambitious CAP is clear, the confrontations between the European Parliament and national governments turned into a ‘dialogue of the deaf’ stated Les Echos. Negotiations will be postponed to June. According to the Economist, it is quite clear that national politicians do not dare to crimp the privileges of the EU farmers. “European farmers are politically powerful in the same way the sky is blue” it stated.
But then moving on to other items that made the news this week, starting with Italy, where a famous Sicilian mafioso was freed from prison. What happened Erik?
Giovanni Brusca is the name of one of the bloodiest murderers in the history of the country. According to Spanish newspaper El País he is believed to be responsible for the murder of 150 people, including judge Falcone. In Corriere della Sera, Alessio Ribaudo explains that the mafioso benefited from a mechanism of the Italian justice that allows criminals convicted to reduce their time in exchange of valuable information to arrest other mafia members. Newspaper Libero reckons that his liberation is inevitable but it describes it as ‘unfair’. The controversy might not be over soon since, according to Lorenzo Tondo in The Guardian, many still claim Brusca has never shown real evidence of having repented for his atrocities. Matteo Salvini stated that “This is not the ‘justice’ that Italians deserve.”
And in Spain, where an increase in electricity prices created outrage?
According to the newspaper La Vanguardia, electricity will be 41% more expensive in June 2021 compared to the previous year. This will be combined with the creation of different time slots in which the electricity consumption rate will vary. According to Porteiro, in the Diario de Galicia, "The confusion and fear created has caused many citizens to reconsider switching to the free market.” Helena Cortes, in ABC, stresses that this measure will force families to adopt untimely schedules to alleviate the unstoppable rise in electricity prices. El Español also recalls the belligerence of the MP Alberto Garzón, now a Spanish government minister, when the price of electricity went up under the Rajoy government, "the oligarchy put their hand in our pockets and the government did not act", were his words back then. As reported in the Heraldo, the government has advanced the approval of a bill to prevent the increase of the price of electricity, but this measure would not come into force for at least a year.
Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen
Photo: Kevin Snyman, via Pixabay
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