President Juncker’s State of the Union address was positive and measured with a sixth scenario for the future of the EU offering a vision for closer integration, a more equal and democratic Union. At a Review on Greening event the Commission acknowledged that while Greening was the most innovative aspect of the last CAP it was also the most controversial and will have to be addressed going forward. The outcome of the vote of the European Parliament on LULUCF in Strasburg will enable continued investment in forestry sector and sustainable forest management in the long term, which is positive for agriculture.
State of the Union Address
The onus on the EU to play its part in protecting the environment and meeting commitments of the COP21 Paris accord is clear. Equally clear are the pressures under which the future EU budget is operating. In a reference to the EU-sceptic perceptions Juncker pointed to more efficient institutions as being the desired objective. The Trade agenda was prioritised with Mercosur, Mexico, NZ and Australia included in those that President Juncker is seeking to finalise agreements by the end of the mandate.
Dutch Farmer Association(LTO) CAP Event
Dutch Farmers(photo) highlighted their priorities of a more flexible approach to Greening including a results based approach where the farmer is free to choose measures to fulfil greening objectives based on a points system. Dutch cereal farmers sought coherence between nitrates directive and water directive. The need for a sustainable dairy chain with criteria including animal welfare and biodiversity was requested. Risk management tools for the horticulture sector were shown to be needed to address extreme weather events, exotic diseases and extreme market events (eg. Political boycotts). At the event it was expressed that too much attention has been focused on mitigation and too little on adaptation and that risk management schemes will only work if accurate information is available.
Rumours circulated at the end of the week that a high TRQ level on beef was under discussion as the European Union offer, even exceeding the original (April 2016) withdrawn offer of 78,000t . A bilateral deal is planned to be signed at the time of the 11th WTO Ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires on the 11-14th December and an exchange of offers due to take place in early October following the German national elections on Sept 24th. IFA has reiterated its request for beef to be excluded from any future offer. There has been no confirmation of the rumoured TRQ figure in circulation.
While the French Government looks set against the renewal of the active substance glyphosate, there is no decision from Germany pending the outcome of their election. Ireland supports the Commission proposal as do the Governments of the UK, Spain, Czech Republic and Romania and IFA is continuing to lobby at Parliament level and in support of COPA’s lobbying effort.
Public Consultation to Improve the Food Chain
IFA will submit a response to the online public consultation and invites those with a vested interest to participate in this questionnaire that seeks to improve the operation of the food chain. There are questions on three areas, Unfair Trading Practices, Market Transparency and Value Sharing Arrangements. The closing date for submissions is the 17th Nov 2017. IFA will also submit a response as part of the COPA Working Group response, chaired by IFA President Joe Healy
Greening Work Shop
The Commission has considered the Greening Report (2016) and the EFA Report (2017) and while it is early to make broad conclusions on Greening it is clear that there is no need to increase EFAs from 5% to 7% and greater benefit will depend on choice of EFA measure so the Commission will endeavour to encourage optimum choices. As described by Mr. Pierre Bascou, Director for Sustainability and income Support for DG Agri, the challenge will be how to improve the co-existence of mandatory and voluntary schemes and how to strike a balance between area coverage, environment performance and administrative burden and how technology can be used to address this.
- COPA Working Group meeting on Rural Development (18th Sept) and Commission Civil Dialogue Meeting (19th Sept) attended by Gerry Gunning
- Election of new COPA President and Vice Presidents at the Praesidium meeting in Brussels on 21st-22nd Sept attended by President Joe Healy and DG Damian McDonald
- World Farmers’ Association European Constituency meeting in Brussels on 22nd Sept. More information on meetings coming up can be found here and here
- Brexit: Address by Theresa May in Florence on Friday 22nd Sept. More information on Brexit here