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CAP reform - Is 'social conditionality' the answer for agri-workers?


CAP reform - Is 'social conditionality' the answer for agri-workers?


European agriculture employs over 10 million people, with a significant proportion (as many as 61.2%) engaged in 'informal employment'. These workers often face poor wages, long working hours, undeclared work, and sub-standard housing, amongst other hardships. Accusations of exploitation, and even modern slavery, have been made in some countries.

In June 2021, the EU institutions took a crucial first step towards addressing this by introducing 'social conditionality' into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

The new measure of social conditionality requires farmers to comply with minimum social and labour standards in order to receive CAP subsidies. National authorities can decide to reduce – or withdraw in the most severe cases – the CAP subsidies where a farmer does not respect one or several requirements under this EU legislation.

The introduction of this measure is currently voluntary, but will become mandatory in all EU countries as of 2025. France, Italy, and Austria have already opted to introduce social conditionality as of 2023. The impact of social conditionality on workers' conditions will be reviewed by the Commission in a public report in 2027.

While many believe that the introduction of social conditionality is a step in the right direction, some stakeholders argue that the level of sanctions imposed at the national level are too low. They call on the European Commission to develop a coordinated and harmonised system of sanctions across Europe.

Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss social conditionality and its impact on the working conditions of agri-workers. How do these reforms affect farmers? Are there any potential drawbacks or unintended consequences of introducing social conditionality in the CAP? If so, what might they be, and how could they be addressed?

Co-funded by the European Union.

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.




Margaret Bateson-Missen
Head of Unit, Social Sustainability, DG AGRI, European Commission

Piroska Kallay
President, Permanent Group on Sustainable Food Systems, European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Claudia Merlino
Vice President, Employers’ Group of Professional Agricultural Organisations in the EU (GEOPA-COPA) & Head, Economic Department, Cia- Agricoltori Italiani

Mariangels Fortuny
Head of Unit, Forestry, Agriculture, Construction and Tourism Unit (FACT), International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Kristjan Bragason
Secretary General, European Federation of Food, Agriculture, and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT)


Julia Dahm


09:30 – 09:35 Welcome
09:35 – 09:50 Panellist statements
09:50 – 10:40 Discussion and Q&A
10:40 – 10:45 Closing statements


Síofra Gilmore
+32 222 65 823

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Commission admits weaknesses of farm funds’ social pillar

Commission admits weaknesses of farm funds’ social pillar

While introducing a 'social pillar' as part of the EU’s reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was a step in the right direction, the new instrument leaves out those sectors where violations of workers’ rights are most rampant, according to a Commission official.