“Preparing for post-2027”

Photo : Sehenswerk/Adobe Stock

The European agricultural policy agenda is impacted by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Issues surrounding food security and sovereignty have never been so crucial.

Glyphosate, NBTs (new plant breeding techniques), implementation of the new CAP, the Green Deal and Farm to Fork, so many issues that are playing out across the European Union and are sure to leave their mark on future European agriculture. And when it comes to agriculture in Europe, France as the EU’s leading agricultural producer should have a say in the matter. We have called on two French MEPs, Eric Andrieu from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PSE) and Irène Tolleret from the Renew Europe group (formerly Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe) to share their views. They both sit on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

The first topic concerns the implementation of the future CAP on the 1st of January 2023. France has already submitted its NSP (national strategic plan), but this is not the case of other Member States. “We are way behind schedule. The desire to renationalize agricultural policies through NSPs does not bode well in my opinion. Imagine the work of the Commission which will have to harmonize NSPs that are four pages long with others like France’s with 4000 pages. I find it hard to imagine that it will be ready for implemenation by 2023”, explains a skeptical Eric Andrieu. Irène Tolleret tries to set a more optimistic tone. “This future CAP is ambitious, it aspires to be greener, but such changes will not happen seamlessly. I am confident, however, about meeting the deadline, especially since the notion of the “right to error” has been incorporated.

Éric Andrieu. Photo : DR
However, both parliamentarians lament the fact that the foundation for the new CAP was established during the previous mandate, i.e. before 2019. In other words, the Green Deal commitments made by the new European Commission were made after that date.The means were put in place before describing the objectives but it should have been done the other way around so that we could have put many more means on the table to make agriculture a key part of the transition”, laments Eric Andrieu. The same sentiment was expressed by the representative of Renew: “the Green Deal has been imposed on us and additional resources are needed, over and above the CAP, so that agriculture can meet these challenges”. We wouldn’t go as far as saying that we put the cart before the horse, but Eric Andrieu believes that the President of France will need to concentrate on preparing the future CAP and bring it into line with the objectives of the Green Deal, i.e. after 2027.

Mirror clauses as a priority objective

The French Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie has made the subject of mirror clauses a priority during the French presidency of the EU (1 January 2022 - 30 June 2022). The objective is to prohibit the import of products that do not meet the EU’s environmental and social standards. Some refer to this as the reciprocity principle. In the opinion of these two MPs, this issue will certainly not be settled by the end of France's EU presidency, but there is a relative degree of consensus on the topic in Europe and in everyone’s view it is progressing favorably. “These mirror clauses resonate with the issues of food security and sovereignty. We must free ourselves of the current restraints of the WTO which has become obsolete. In Eric Andrieu’s view, the EU and France must be able to weigh in on these issues”. “We already have the legislative tools in place to make our directives compatible with the WTO. This is not an issue that can be settled in a few days, but it is on track. Common sense must prevail. If some member countries are a little reluctant they will soon realize, if only on the scale of the European market alone, that it will behoove them to not relax environmental and social standards”, stresses Irène Tolleret.  

“Glyphosate and NBTs, science must have the last word”

Irène Tolleret. Photo : DR
The other major issue awaiting the President of the Republic; such sensitive subjects: regulations regarding the reauthorization of glyphosate (Europe must decide by the end of 2022) and the future of NBTs “New breeding techniques”. With regard to glyphosate, Irène Tolleret insists that we must trust science and base decisions on the position taken by Europe’s scientific agencies. I do not favor punitive ecology but rather prefer to be pragmatic on these issues. Indeed, we need appropriate legislation which encourages alternative solutions such as biocontrol to help achieve the Farm to Fork objectives in terms of pesticide reduction”. As for the PSE, Eric Andrieu is not known to be a fierce defender of glyphosate. “I am not calling for an immediate stop, but we must move in that direction. In 90% of cases, we can do without it. The new regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides will be presented to the Commission in early Spring of 2022 and is in line with the Farm to Fork objective, i.e. 25% of UAA organically farmed and 50% reduction in inputs. Stating the objective does not necessarily mean achieving it, but at least it makes us stop and take stock”. Our two representatives are on the same wavelength when it comes to NBTs. These new techniques should be considered as tools. If they are beneficial in terms of health and the environment, then we must move forward while ensuring that ethical limits are set with regard to their use.

“Bringing agriculture into the social debate”

Beyond these major issues just discussed, Eric Andrieu prefers to summarize things as follows: “the most important thing is to have the courage to bring agriculture into the social debate by giving farmers and consumers their voice back. The new government will need to reinvest in a policy of common sense because agriculture affects food, biodiversity and climate change. And that's the policy it will need to maintain for the next five years to restore the glory of Agriculture”.



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