In a videoconference held on Monday, June 8, the EU Ministers of Agriculture discussed the "From farm to table" and "Biodiversity 2030" strategies that were presented by the European Commission two weeks ago within the framework of the Green Pact to achieve a CO2 neutral economy by 2050.
At the meeting, all the countries of the European Union (EU) supported the objective of moving towards more sustainable agricultural production. However, they did warn that this transition could harm the competitiveness of the European sector and called for measures to avoid it.
"I appreciate both strategies. They are in line with our national and strategic objectives,” stated Luis Planas, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food. At the meeting, however, Planas asked the EC to explain how it had calculated the objectives of reducing pesticides or fertilizers and asked for reciprocity between European and foreign producers in this regard.
France considered that the two strategies were in the right direction and Italy said that it shared their spirit and objectives but defended having a balance between sustainability and competitiveness.
After the meeting, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowsk, stated in a press conference that the application of both strategies will require adequate financing. He also said that he expected the new Community proposal for the 2021-2027 budget, which increases the budget for the agricultural sector by 26,400 million euro over what was allocated for the sector in 2018, would be approved.
Demands for strict production conditions on agri-food imports from third countries
Many ministers asked the EU to require strict production conditions for agri-food imports from third countries in order to protect European producers.
During the debate, Planas spoke about the costs that the objectives of reducing pesticides or fertilizers will entail, saying that they would be less competitive if imports to the EU are not subject to these requirements.
In turn, France asked for an impact study on these objectives.
The appeals to reward and not penalize farmers, which during the COVID-19 pandemic have always guaranteed food supply and the carrying out of previous impact studies were also mentioned by many of the countries.
Many delegations, such as France, Italy, and Austria, requested that the producers who have already started to convert and produce in a more ecological way are not required the same level of effort as those who have not started to do so yet.