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Protesting farmers meet EU leaders

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Farmers’ protests have erupted across Europe in recent weeks, because of overall dissatisfaction with EU and national policies. On 1 February 2024 they came to Brussels to dicturbe EU Summit. Their demonstration led the result to meet leading EU politicians  on Thursday evening, among them Ursula Von der Leyen, European Commission President , Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Ms. Von Der Leyen explained the situation on a press confernce given by the ocassion of the special meeting of the European Council of 1 February 2024

„Let me add a few words on the discussion on agriculture. Farmers play an essential role in Europe’s economy and society. Their work contributes greatly to our food security and indeed also to our way of life. And they are key actors in ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. They live with nature and from nature. It is after all the basis of their livelihoods and thus also the basis of our livelihoods. European farmers are dynamic. In 2022, productivity improved 13%, thanks to their efforts. They also contribute positively to our external trade. Last year again, agri-food exports increased by 5%. So, I think it is fair to say that our farmers have shown remarkable resilience in the face of the recent crises. But many challenges remain. For example, the tensions on agri-food prices or a very competitive global market that leads to uncertainty, and of course, the need to remain competitive while working to high standards and environmental protection – a very complex endeavour.

Farmers can count on European support. The Common Agricultural Policy budget allocates close to EUR 390 billion, that is almost one-third of the European budget, to agriculture. In 2023 alone, Europe provided exceptional assistance of over EUR 500 million to farmers most affected by crises. We know that this support is crucial, and we know that farmers are making good use of it. But in parallel, the Commission is now working closely with the Member States to address the immediate challenges. This week, for example, we have proposed additional flexibility to farmers on the so-called fallow land use. And we have proposed safeguards on poultry, eggs and sugar imports from Ukraine to avoid a significant surge in imports.

Finally, of course we have to defend legitimate interests of farmers in our trade negotiations, in particular, in ensuring a level playing field in terms of standards when we have trade agreements. And I am very sensitive to the message that farmers are concerned by administrative burden. This is a general topic, you know that this is close to my heart, to reduce these administrative burdens. So we will work with the Belgian Presidency on a proposal that we will then present ready in time before the next Agricultural Council to work on reducing these administrative burdens.

Last but certainly not least, our mid- and long-term proposal. As you know, we have started last week the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Agriculture in the European Union. In other words, we have convened all the different stakeholders, of course the farmers’ representatives, the young farmers, but also the food processors, those who work in environmental NGOs, Greenpeace, other stakeholders across the whole agricultural sector. The aim is that, together, we develop an idea, a vision and a roadmap on how to reach our common goals. It was very reassuring to hear that all stand behind the common goal to reach climate neutrality by 2050. But how to get there, this has to be developed with the farmers and with their knowledge, because they have many interesting ideas on how to move forward on this topic. The strategic dialogue will also bring answers in the mid and long term, that will feed in the programme of the next Commission, and certainly will have an influence on the next negotiations on the CAP.” – she said.

EU Briefs publie des articles provenant de diverses sources extérieures qui expriment un large éventail de points de vue. Les positions prises dans ces articles ne sont pas nécessairement celles d'EU Briefs.

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