AS Brussels continues to grapple with the vaccine roll-out across the European Union and deal with the fall-out of AstraZeneca reneging on contractual obligations including backtracking on Article 16 in the Northern Ireland Protocol, discussions on agricultural policy reform continue apace.
At a recent meeting of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, Portuguese Agriculture Minister Maria do Céu Antunes said she was determined to press ahead with getting the new CAP agreed. The current Council chairwoman said the EU farm policy was ‘a fundamental pillar of the EU despite all of the difficulties,’ noting that farmers had ‘guaranteed supply’ of food.
The presidency wanted to have a ‘fairer and greener and more digital Europe.’ That meant ‘fostering structural development within the food system, guaranteeing sustainability in rural areas and digital growth.’
The former Mayor of Abrantes (central Portugal) said that organic agriculture should be supported and the Farm to Fork Strategy made more concrete. ‘We also wish to have a long-term vision for rural areas and their development,’ to create a more sustainable farm sector. ‘All of this is supposed to contribute to the aim of Europe in 2050 becoming climate neutral,’ she said.
Concluding negotiations on the new CAP was ‘one of the topmost priorities for the Portuguese presidency. We do not have time to lose.The time has come to now reach a conclusion,’ she said.
‘This Spring we wish to have a consensus which we reach inter-institutionally,’ she said. ‘For April we wish to reach an agreement. The Farm to Fork Strategy is essential to create a fairer and more sustainable European food system. We must have food systems which are sustainable and which can provide food to the world.’
• Rose O’Donovan is the editor-in-chief of the Brussels-based publication AGRA FACTS.