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.”
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”
“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”.