Posted on

March 7th, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought war back to European soil, and its dramatic consequences are unfolding under our eyes.

Ukraine and Russia are world top exporters of grains – wheat, maize, sunflower. The war is blocking exports from the Black Sea, where over 10 million tons of grain can no longer feed world markets. What will happen to the next campaign is anyone’s guess. The effects are already being felt, as grain prices attain ever higher levels.

EU consumers will have to pay more for their food basket, on top of the recent sprawling inflationary pressures. EU meat producers are paying more to feed their livestock. In parts of the Middle-East and Africa the inflation in grain prices is going to afflict legions of poor dwellers.

The war brings pain, but it is also a wake-up call to the EU. It is by now crystal clear to Europeans that they have to improve their energy sovereignty, and be less dependent on imports from Russia.

It should also be crystal clear that the EU should ensure its food sovereignty. Energy and food independence are crucial strategic pillars. We should not put our food supplies in danger, and we should be concerned that neighbors countries and poor countries in Africa do not face starvation.  

This should be a wake-up call to the Commission. The Commission proposals on the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies run frontally counter our food sovereignty and world food security. All the studies and analysis done on the proposals, including the one done by the Commission itself, show staggering results: supply is reduced by more than 10-15% in the key sectors, cereals, oilseeds, beef, dairy cows; over 15% in pork and poultry, and over 5% in vegetables and permanent crops. All the analysis published show similar results, leaving little doubt that we would face a sharp policy self-inflicted contraction of agriculture in the EU.

The EU shouldn’t pursue a policy that reduces its agriculture production when globalization and security of supplies are challenged, and world demand for food and feed is increasing as the world population increases. 

The time has come for the Commission to fundamentally revise its proposals.

Fighting climate change and protecting the environment are priorities that we share. The issue we have is not on implementing policies that go in that direction. The issue is that the Commission proposed policies would have a limited beneficial impact on the environment, as production would go up elsewhere to compensate for the contraction in the EU, with little if any climatic or environmental concerns, whilst having a large negative impact on our food production and increasing inflation.

There are alternative policies that would protect the environment and fight climate change, and increase our production potential at the same time. The key is to foster the right investments in order to achieve sustainable productivity growth. It is doable, it is being proven right, but we need to scale up the efforts in the EU.

The Commission should take stock of the evaluations of its ill-conceived proposals, and change tack without delay. The Commission should not make any specific legislative proposals before revising its copy.