This Policy Brief examines the extent to which the High Environmental Value (HEV) certification can contribute to improving the environmental performance of French agriculture towards the objectives of the European Green Deal and of the French National Low-Carbon Strategy.
The inclusion of the HEV certification in the eco-schemes of the CAP’s first pillar (but also the tax credits of the recovery plan, or the supply of collective catering) must be conditional on a thorough revision of its specifications—otherwise, the entire French eco-scheme system will be discredited:
- Elimination of path B: statistical data show that farms in high value-added sectors (viticulture) or with high labour costs (market gardening) can obtain certification without any improvement in their environmental performance;
- A revision of path A, as the criteria, indicators and thresholds retained strongly limit the environmental ambition of the HVE certification (in addition to the fact that it does not include any criteria or indicators on climate change mitigation);
- an advantage should be given to more robust certifications, in particular organic farming and High Nature Value (HNV) farming (especially focused on extensive grass-fed farming);
- French actors (government, trade unions, civil society) must act together to set up an ambitious European framework (and beyond, at the international level), at the risk, otherwise, of amplifying important distortions of competition that negatively affect French farmers.