The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the statement authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and of all its scientists.

    Scientists call for action for the EU Common Agricultural Policy to address sustainability challenges

    An open statement signed by over 3,600 scientists across Europe and beyond

    About our statement


    Making agriculture sustainable is a global challenge. In the European Union (EU), the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is failing with respect to biodiversity, climate, soil, land degradation as well as socio-economic challenges.

    The European Commission’s proposal for a CAP post-2020 provides a scope for enhanced sustainability. However, it also allows Member States to choose low-ambition implementation pathways. It therefore remains essential to address citizens’ demands for sustainable agriculture and rectify systemic weaknesses in the CAP, using the full breadth of available scientific evidence and knowledge.

    Concerned about current attempts to dilute the environmental ambition of the future CAP, and the lack of concrete proposals for improving the CAP in the draft of the European Green Deal, we call on the European Parliament, Council and Commission to adopt ten urgent action points for delivering sustainable food production, biodiversity conservation, and climate mitigation.

    Knowledge is available to help moving towards an evidence-based, sustainable European agriculture that can benefit people, nature and their joint futures.

    The statements made in this article have the broad support of the scientific community, expressed by over 3,600 signatories to the preprint version of this manuscript.


    G. Pe’er, A. Bonn, H. Bruelheide, P. Dieker, N. Eisenhauer, P. H. Feindt, G. Hagedorn, B. Hansjürgens, I. Herzon, A. Lomba, E. Marquard, F. Moreira, H. Nitsch, R. Oppermann, A. Perino, N. Röder, C. Schleyer, S. Schindler, C. Wolf, Y. Zinngrebe, S. Lakner (2020): Action needed for the EU Common Agricultural Policy to address sustainability challenges. The Position Paper was made available online on 4.11.2019 and opened for signatories until 19.2.2020; A peer reviewed derivation was published in People and Nature on 9.3.2020 (DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10080)


    Over 3,600 scientists have signed the statement, covering all EU Member States and additional 36 countries. 


    Here you can read the full paper in...

    Czech , Deutsch , Italiano (pre-print version), Română (pre-print version).

    The abstract is also available in...

    Български (Bulgarian), Eesti (Estonian), Español, Français, Hrvatski (Croatian)

    News and further reading


    Juli 2020: Brief an Frau Bundesministerin Julia Klöckner, Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft: "Angebot zum Dialog und Unterstützung zur Ausgestaltung der künftigen Gemeinsamen Agrarpolitik" (7.7.2020; Erinnerung 29.7.2020)

    June 2020: We are happy to inform that representatives of our group recently met Vice-Presisent Timmermans (5.5.2020), Commissioner Sinkevicius (15.6.2020) and Commissioner Wojciechowski (17.6.2020) to discuss how science can help improving the CAP.

    Further reading:

    What is wrong with the CAP?
    Read the 260-page Fitness Check, indicating both environmental and socioeconomic weaknesses.

    What makes the Commission proposal for the CAP post-2020 weak?
    Read Pe’er et al. 2019, Science (open access links); download the 65-page supplementary materials (PDF)

    Why are we concerned about further watering down?

    Read a Blog-post by Pe'er & Lakner on why food security is a risky argument when placed against environmental protection. 

    Read COMAGRI’s vote of 2 April 2019 for proposed amendments here, and the initial proposal made by the Member States’ Council here, to judge by yourself.

    See an expression of concern by 15 NGOs on the watering down of Conditionality here.

    See Open Letter by professional societies of ornithologists, mammalogists, herpetologists and butterfly experts here.

    Read the Statement by the Rural Coalition of farmers, comprising CEJA, CEPF, CIC, Copa and Cogeca, ELO, FACE and UECBV regarding the CAP-proposal here.

    Evidence-based recommendations made by scientists and other stakeholders in Ireland (see CAP4Nature here).

    Frequently asked questions

    Q: Who is a scientist?
    A: People who have either completed a doctorate/PhD and are, or have been, engaged in research/science. Students, or people working in other fields, were asked to provide a DOI or other references as evidence for egagement in doing science.

    Q: Can people out of the EU sign the position paper?
    A: We did not specifically invite, but we also did not say "no" to signatories beyond the EU, since the CAP does have global impacts. Moreover, people out of the EU may be doing research on relevant topics and may have the capacity to judge. After all, the call for policy makers to make effective use of science and knowledge, is not exclusive for the EU.

    Q: Are you not extending beyond your role as scientists?
    A: Position papers are a well-established means of communication, used by a range of societal groups - including scientists - to make informed, evidence-based messages when a policy-relevant topic requires attention. The science behind our call is robust (and yet ignored), and our call avoids policy-prescriptive formulations to the extent possible. Notably, we are not only scientists but also citizens. Accordingly, the statement is made by the individuals who have authored and signed it. 

    Guy Pe'er is a researcher at sDiv, the synthesis Centre of iDiv. He is also affiliated with Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ (Dept. Ecosystem Services and Dept. Economics).

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