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Focussing on the European Commission’s proposals for the 2021-27 CAP, this paper looks at the opportunities they present for enhancing climate and environmental ambition in the EU, examining in particular the role that the proposed new Pillar 1 eco-scheme might play in the policy mix. It discusses some of the opportunities and risks related to its introduction including: the ability to target and tailor direct payments to environmental needs; the balance between flexibility and accountability; securing sufficient resources; the pros and cons of the two payment models permitted; annual versus multi-annual commitments; and its relationship in the green architecture with conditionality and other rural development payments. It concludes that the eco-scheme represents a change in direction for the integration of environmental goals and tools into Pillar 1 of the CAP which could act as a bridge to a more integrated and sustainable single pillar policy architecture in the future. However, it remains to be seen whether Member States are yet ready to appreciate its potential and use its flexibilities in innovative ways to promote a more ambitious environmental agenda in conjunction with other CAP measures.


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