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Open letter of French and German NGOs addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the occasion of the International Green week, the 55 anniversary of the signing of the Elysee Treaty and the upcoming informal European Council of 23 February 2018:

Dear Chancellor Merkel and President Macron,

The supporting French and German NGOs subscribe to the importance of a good cooperation between the French and German State as the basis for a thriving European project as described in the Elysee Treaty that will be commemorated on Monday 22nd January. Citizens want their state and the EU to protect them and their environment from the global threats while preparing us for the challenges ahead.

The challenges of the past are no longer today’s challenges. The EU should focus on the elements that have been written out in the Sustainable Development Goals and include the need to restore and conserve life on land, life below water and protect our climate. The way we organise our food and farming system is crucial to ensure the sustainable development of Europe and the rest of the world. However, our food and farming system is broken, which is seen by a collapse of birds and insects in the landscape, water and air pollution, etc.

As environmental NGOs, we call upon you, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron:

  • Update the Elysee treaty by setting the SDGs at the core of the close cooperation between our two Member States and as the basis for the work of the European Union.
  • Take the protection of nature serious by putting the ecological transition (transition ecologique) into practice not just for nature conservation, but for the economy as a whole.
  • Make ambitious plans for limiting climate change to below 2 degrees and strengthen the energy transition (energie wende).

The upcoming EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework will be a tool to showcase how the EU will act upon these global challenges and should avoid to fall back into a money-haggling exercise between nation states. A first opportunity to demonstrate this leadership is the next informal European Council, organised by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. There you will start to discuss the future of the European Budget which still contains over one third in spending on agriculture subsidies.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) keeps subsidising a broken system. We need you to use this debate to start the transformation of the food and farming system by demanding clear results from this policy and redirecting these public subsidies towards public goods.

Therefore, we call upon you to speak out at the EU leaders meeting on 21st of February and:

  • Use the EU budget negotiations, not just to count how much is flowing back to national coffers but to set a vision for Europe while cleaning the European house of ineffective and inefficient policy instruments.
  • Ensure a Proactive Nature and Biodiversity Conservation financing by creating a 15 billion euro nature fund and stocking up the LIFE programme to 1 Billion EUR
  • Create a budget focused on results that helps to fully implement the EU commitments on biodiversity, water, air, soil and climate.
  • Stop all environmentally harmful and climate-damaging subsidies including the first pillar of the CAP
  • Start a Sustainable Agriculture Transition based on public money for public goods

We, environmental NGOs, want to show our support to the sustainable development of our common project that is the European Union. We want to stand by your side, as societal actors to make it happen. But for this, we expect you to take up the challenges and take bold steps not just for the people you represent but for the planet we all jointly live on.

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