Farm Europe highlights that EU agriculture sovereignty is still to be built

Posted on

Today, Farm Europe presents its Sustainable Food Systems Indicator (*) at the opening of the 7th Global Food Forum, in Brussels, in presence of David Clarinval, Vice Prime Minister and minister for Agriculture representing the Belgium Presidency of the Council, Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Ciolos, Member of the European Parliament, former Prime minister and European Commissioner as well as Arnaud Rousseau, President of FNSEA and Ettore Prandini, President Coldiretti. 

This indicator shows that EU agriculture sovereignty is still to be built. It also shows the strengths and weaknesses of every Member States. An analysis of all indicators highlights that, if the EU remains a global power for agriculture, it is also fragile, exposed to geopolitical games, climate risks & dependence on feeds and fertilizers. In addition, the EU is missing the opportunity of the bioeconomy (bioenergy and biomaterials).

The level of interdependency of each Member State within the EU is high. In most EU countries, most of the agricultural economic indicators are in the red : income by hectare decrease by 12% over the last 20 years, the EU lost 37% of its farmers and direct payments decreased by 31%. Overall, consumers and public finances have been the big winners of the EU policies, farmers are the big losers. 

The environmental transitions are on going in all but a handful of Member States, like the Netherlands and Denmark. Together with Finland, Hungary and Lithuania, those 5 countries did not put environment as a priority. Nevertheless, over the last 20 years, emissions dropped by 8% in the agricultural sector, and 20% for the arable crops. The use of the most dangerous phytosanitary products has been reduced by 43% since 2011. 

Over the last 20 years, the weaknesses of EU production and urbanization led to the lost of 10 million hectares. In the meantime, the EU increased its impact on land use outside Europe with 11 million hectares of imported deforestation, in particular due to its dependency on feeds. 

Czech Republic has the highest score, along side France, Romania and Poland, for its capacity to deliver social, environmental and economic sustainability together. In contrast, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus and to a certain extend Germany’s production systems are the most challenged. 

Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany gave the top priority to low prices for consumers. The best environmental dynamics are on going in Greece, Romania, but also Ireland, France and Czech Republic. The economic parameters are less negative than in other countries in Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Romania, while the best production dynamics are on going in Poland and Latvia. Hungaria is the only Member States with real dynamic when it comes to bioeconomy. 

(*) Farm Europe’s sustainability indicator provides an overview of the key parameters of social, economic and environmental sustainability. It is built on 12 situation and trends indicators and provides a consistent picture of the current situation both at EU agriculture and for single Member States. It reflects 20 years of policy choices, as well as climate, social and geopolitical challenges. It is based on structural and economic data sets from International and EU institutions (Eurostat, FADN, FAO, etc.).