Press Releases

23 November 2018

Statement of Readiness for Developing Cooperation and Partnership signed in the Croatian Parliament between the Croatian and Romanian Committees

Zagreb, 23 November 2018 – At the end of the Interparliamentary Conference “The Role of Parliaments in Shaping the Future of Food and Farming, in the context of the Presidency of the Council of the EU trio, Doina Silistru, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Food Industry and Rural Development of Romanian Senate, Alexandru Stănescu, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Food Industry and Special Services of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies and Chair of the Croatian Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, Tomislav Panenić signed a Statement of Readiness for Developing Cooperation and Partnership in the Process of Further Discussions on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

Panenić: CAP must be an efficient mechanism for addressing market instabilities and provide adequate solutions for boosting the resilience of agriculture to climate change

Conference participants point to the importance of the active role of national parliaments in discussions on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy post 2020

Zagreb, 23 November 2018 – In the final part of the Conference “The Role of Parliaments in Shaping the Future of Food and Farming” held in the Croatian Parliament on Friday, the participants discussed the importance of further debate on the post 2020 Common Agricultural Policy in national parliaments. The participants shared the opinion that such an exchange of experiences and views among Member States parliaments in shaping the new CAP for the period 2021-2027 was extremely important.

Martin Preineder, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry of the Austrian National Assembly and chairman of this debate, said that the EU motto “United in Diversity” can be applied on agriculture as well, which was clearly demonstrated during this Conference. – It is our task to find in this diversity common positions and solutions with different implementation possibilities, Preineder said. He continued by addressing the specific features of Austrian agriculture, pointing out that as much as 23% of the country’s production is based on biological production, which is the highest rate in the EU and in the world. According to Preineder, the major challenges for the future of European agriculture are climate change, environment protection and young people leaving rural areas. – We should inspire young people to get into politics and in order to achieve that we have to maintain the existing level of direct payments, invest in infrastructure and provide balanced solutions for climate changes and environmental protection, said Pat Deering, Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in his introductory speech. He emphasized that direct payments, environmental measures, risk management and generational renewal as well as the protection of rural areas were the most important segments of the future Common Agricultural Policy.

Alexandre Freschi, Member of the European Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, talked about sustainable agriculture but also about economic, social and environmental sustainability together with better and fairer distribution of support to farmers. – the CAP must be more efficient and simpler in terms of administration. Citizens and farmers should have confidence in it, Freschi said. He emphasized in particular the need to define the forms of agricultural production which should be supported more strongly, especially in the context of ensuring health, life and a better relationship towards the environment.

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovčić believes that product excellence and emphasis on quality are key to the future of agricultural production. “Only with excellent products can we be competitive and the CAP needs to insist on this, because in this way we will generate additional motivation and profit for agriculture, while consumers will be more satisfied and healthier,” Jakovčić concluded.

This opinion is shared by the Chair of the EP’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Czesław Siekierski, who pointed out in his closing statement that diversity was our strength. “We have different histories, traditions and customs, but we are tied by shared values,” Siekierski said. He also added that adequate support instruments should be devised that would be intended for everyone, but as the support itself is not enough, more needs to be done to increase agricultural income and improve the living standards of farmers. – Citizens should be informed about the specificity of agricultural policy and engaged in the social dialogue, and co-operation among national parliaments needs to continue, concluded Siekierski.

The Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, host and initiator of this two-day Interparliamentary Conference Tomislav Panenić once again emphasized the importance of the active role of national parliaments in making key decisions, but also the active role of agricultural producers who are increasingly following the global trends in agriculture. – This conference is a unique opportunity where we have expressed our views and presented them to the highest-ranking EU officials in charge of agriculture, Panenić said. He stressed that everyone in the European Union wanted a safe and sustainable agricultural production and that the CAP had to be an effective mechanism for addressing market instabilities and to provide adequate ways for boosting the resilience of agriculture to climate change. – Direct payments in agriculture are crucial for the further development of agricultural production, and development of agricultural production is the key to rural development, Panenić concluded.

This session marked the end of the two-day international conference attended by the representatives of the national parliaments of twenty EU Member States, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the largest interest group of European food producers Copa-Cogeca, the Croatian Centre for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Agriculture and Forestry Advisory Service, the Croatian Food Agency, the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture, the Croatian Association of Young Farmers and the Association “Best of Međimurje”.

First Session of the Second Day of the Interparliamentary Conference on “The Role of Parliaments in Shaping the Future of Food and Farming”

Debate Focuses on the European Parliament’s Position on the Future of Food and Farming

Zagreb, 23 November 2018 – The two-day Interparliamentary Conference on “The Role of Parliaments in Shaping the Future of Food and Agriculture” held at the Croatian Parliament continued on Friday. It was chaired by Martin Preineder, Chair of the Austrian Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. On the first day, the participants discussed the European Commission’s views on the Common Agricultural Policy, while today’s debate focused on the European Parliament’s view on this issue.

In his introductory speech, Czesław Siekierski, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed his satisfaction that such a conference was held in the EU’s youngest member state rendering problems more visible. He presented the challenges facing Europe today – Brexit, migration from the east and internal migration from the Baltic states to the old member states of the European Union. – In Poland, we have a shortage of people due to internal migration and we compensate it by welcoming people from Ukraine and from far-east countries. We have issued 20,000 work permits only for them, said Siekierski. He noted that there were divisions within Europe. Members states develop at a different pace, some are members of the Eurozone, some are not, some are inside and some outside the Schengen area. He stressed how important it was that such divisions were not permanent and that they did not deepen further. Siekierski believes that what is happening in Europe decreasingly depends on Europe, and more and more on the global market situation. The Common Agricultural Policy cannot solve all the problems in the EU because the EU’s agriculture situation depends on external factors – trade, standards, quality, signing of various interstate agreements, such as with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He further stated that the Russian embargo affected the whole of Europe, especially the farmers who paid the largest price because Russia started to export certain crops and it would be difficult for Europe to return to the Russian market ever again. He stressed that the design of the CAP should take into account the differences within the EU’s agriculture, such as agriculture in the north and in the south. The northernmost members will produce milk, cereals and pork, while in the south farmers will produce wine, grapes and olive oil. – The differences between old and young EU members should also be respected. Younger members, who were once socialist or communist countries, are sometimes reluctant to establish cooperatives because it reminds them of their history when such associations were coercive and resulted in the nationalization of the land. These farmers are still afraid of joint action, which is not the case in the West, said Siekierski.

Chair of the Croatian Parliament’s Agriculture Committee Tomislav Panenić, host of the Conference, presented a summary of yesterday’s debates. The four sessions discussed the process of adopting national strategic plans for the CAP, generational renewal, local governance and rural development, and research in agriculture, and food safety and quality. Within the framework of the first session, whose aim was to look into the possible consequences of introducing national strategic plans for the CAP, Panenić said that reform had to bring real simplification so that policy in the future would be more understandable for farmers and easier to use. He stressed that small and medium-sized agricultural holdings should be at the centre of politics, and programming should be geared towards respecting their needs. He also pointed out that, regardless of the challenges facing the EU, the level of agricultural policy funding should remain at least at the current level, given the importance of the agricultural community in the feeding of the world’s population. The session on generational renewal, focused on measures which should be taken to encourage young farmers. Panenić pointed out that the discussion had raised the underlying problems: income that lag behind other sectors, business risks that cannot be avoided, difficult access to land, conditions related to creditworthiness and unfair trade practices in the supply chain. All this, Panenić pointed out, could not keep the young generation in the village. The aim of yesterday’s third session was to discuss the role of regional and local government in the implementation of rural development policy and how it could be improved in the next budgetary period. As potential constraints, Panenić emphasized weak administrative capacity at local and regional level, reduced budget for rural development measures and increased conditionality for additional environmental and climate goals. – The discussions highlighted the complex administrative requirements for the implementation of the Leader Initiative and their simplification was proposed for the next budgetary period. A model of public-private partnership was supported, in order to provide additional sources of funding, Panenić said. At the fourth session participants shared views on the importance of research in agriculture and how it could improve food safety and quality. A positive evaluation was made for the increase in agricultural research spending in the next budgetary period, but the participants also highlighted the need for stronger involvement of younger Member States in the European Union’s research program, he stressed. He also accentuated the need for a stronger link between digitization and agricultural production, as well as the need for training of experts to develop more innovative systems and technologies.

Irish MP Jackie Cahill noted that climate change was an extraordinary challenge in food production and sustainability of that production. He pointed out that there was no point in transporting food around the world, but Europe had to produce it itself. Croatian MEP Marijana Petir discussed the proposal for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, agreeing that it should be more flexible and more respectful of the subsidiarity model.

The Conference also discussed about the amount of land given to corporations that produce food in the world market, the disproportion between villages and cities, the ever decreasing earnings of farmers, which directly affects young people and makes them leave the village.