FSE/ESF Forum social européen/European Social Forum - A new agriculture for an enlarged EU
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Memoria Viva // Paris 2003 Reports // Against the logic of profit //

A new agriculture for an enlarged EU [en]
11 December 2003

Enlargement of the EU is supposed to be both a threat and an opportunity for agriculture and rural areas in existing and new members. The public - especially consumers and environmental NGOs - want a much deeper CAP reform than the finally approved mid-term review changes have brought. CAP reform is a responsibility of present EU member states. New members wanted to join and have to accept the frame. But their responsibility is increasing. In negotiating agriculture and rural development framework and its implementation before the enlargement and in planning for the first years of enlarged EU, they have shown their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, their rich biodiversity, environment, agricultural jobs..., are in threat.



 

Preparation for enlargement was focused to prepare new member states for the OLD CAP and very little for boosting rural development / 2nd pillar measures. So there is a big weakness in this field: lack of capacity to prepare and manage the programmes and measures, little possibility to provide obligatory co-financing (20%), low public involvement in programming.Pre-accession aid in agriculture (SAPARD) was spent largely on adapting food processing to the EU health / food safety rules. But let’s not forget that all major food safety crises (BSE, dioxine...) were produced by highly intensified and industrialised agriculture common in the EU, and not by extensive systems.

Also the present attitude of EU / European Commission is extremely worrying: on the one hand, praising rural development, food safety and environment, on the other, gradually paving the path of GMOs and thereby agro-multinationals into European agriculture. There is obviously a need to set clear priorities for European agriculture that will benefit its citizens and people in the developing countries.

Alternative proposals

- Organic farming should be a long-term final goal for European agriculture.
- Transitional models of more sustainable farming according to the specifics of the regions should be put in place.
- Support of appropriate farm structures enabling living rural communities, especially small family farms specific for many European regions.
- A profound CAP reform should set the frame for development of these alternatives and to put an immediate stop to the most detrimental agricultural practices (reg. health and environment, biodiversity, developing countries).
- Wider regulatory environment should be changed accordingly to support this (lower agricultural labour taxation, zero VAT on organic food, taxation of agricultural pollutants, etc.)

Implementation

- Help environmental and organic farmers’ NGOs in their endeavours to change both EU policies and national priorities and programmes; strengthening of NGO sector is therefore a primary need.
- Elaborate national action plans for organic farming and an EU OFAP as a helpful framework.
- Change consumption patterns and use consumer power: buy organic an local food, invest in organic farming financial schemes, buy fair trade products, eco-tourism especially on (organic) farms.
- Transparency, democracy, strengthened public participation.
- Keep GMO-free (and eventually "clean" of GMOs!).






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