The European Commission (EC) recently released 12 legal proposals designed to update the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by 2013, a move which has apparently elicited a strong response from environmentalists over reforms meant to “strengthen the competitiveness and the sustainability of agriculture” throughout the region. According to the EC, the proposals would simplify CAP while addressing nine additional points, including (i) “better targeted income support,” (ii) more responsive and effective crisis management, (iii) “green” payments for “preserving long-term productivity,” (iv) additional investment in research and innovation, and (v) “a more competitive and balanced food chain.”

For example, as The Guardian’s environmental blog explains, the CAP reforms would “move away from historical payments to a flat-rate payment scheme,” limit payments to the largest enterprises, and provide additional assistance to young and organic farmers. Yet the October 13, 2011, blog post also notes that the proposals have drawn swift criticism from organizations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Greenpeace, which warned that some aspects of the reform amount to little more than “green washing.”

“Handing out €435bn of taxpayers’ money over the next 10 years to some of the most destructive corporations and richest individuals in Europe— as millions of people across the continent lose their jobs— is crass,” opines Guardian Environmental Editor John Vidal. “There is to be no rethink of the export subsidy system which is unfair to developing countries, and no new obligation on farmers to protect rivers or biodiversity. The overall cut in funding for agri-environment schemes spells disaster.”