April 23, 2024

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'Riots are the result of European agricultural policy': EU ministers want more ambitious plans to alleviate farmers' problems |  News

'Riots are the result of European agricultural policy': EU ministers want more ambitious plans to alleviate farmers' problems | News

In order to deal with the ongoing farmer protests in Europe, the 27 EU agriculture ministers met on Monday morning. As hundreds of tractors occupied the European quarter of Brussels, it sought measures to ease administrative pressure on farmers. “The European Commission must take more ambitious steps,” answers Federal Agriculture Minister David Clarenvall (MR).

Yorick Dupont

Last updated:

Special Reports, Belga

look. “Agriculture ministers listen to protests at their conference tables.”

“There was a positive reaction among member states to the first measures proposed by the European Commission,” Clarenvall said during the press conference after the European consultations. Belgium currently temporarily chairs the European Union's ministerial councils. “We have collected 500 proposals from Member States for greater flexibility and have sent them to the Commission to strengthen responses to the crisis.”

For example, the Commission wants to convert less agricultural area into pastures. This may be possible as of March. Inspections of agricultural holdings by national authorities could be reduced by half, according to a European Commission proposal.

Watch also. Farmers are demonstrating again, but this time in a gloomy atmosphere

It was also clarified when penalties would not be imposed on farmers because they cannot comply with the rules of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to force majeure. The Common Agricultural Policy is, among other things, a pot of money that the EU distributes to farmers through member states in exchange for better environmental and climate protection.

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Clarenvall also noted that free trade agreements negotiated by the European Commission with other countries should be carefully scrutinized. Member states also ask the Commission to ensure smoother Ukrainian grain exports to non-European countries. To help Ukrainian farmers, they can sell their goods in the EU, but this means that European farmers have to sell their grain at a lower price.

Bronze: “The message came from all member states”

Flemish Agriculture Minister Jo Bruns (CD&V) told our editors: “It was unanimous in the Council: we must provide an answer to the concerns that farmers have expressed today, but have already expressed for weeks.” He sat at the table during the meeting with his European colleagues. “We have done this at the Flemish level, but now the European level must also change.”

Free trade with the Mercosur countries of South America

Through spokesman Bram Bombeck, Bruns also refers to the negotiations on a free trade agreement with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the so-called Mercosur countries. A political agreement on this matter was reached in 2019, but additional negotiations continued for years.

“No products that we don't produce here ourselves should come here,” Bruns says. “There are no steaks in Flanders that do not meet our sustainability requirements.”

Groen, the Flemish in the opposition and federal majority, called on Monday to stop negotiating the agreement. “They are still allowed to use pesticides in South America that are banned in Europe because they make people sick. It is ridiculous that these fruits and vegetables should end up in our supermarket,” co-chairman Jeremy Vanekhout gives an example.

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“Neoliberalism is outdated.”

Teijs Pullins, Farmers Forum

Mercosur is also a stumbling block for the protests of farmers' organizations today. The young United Farmers feel that they will have to serve as currency for the exports of German industry and that the rules that apply to them in Europe will be cast abroad in favor of cheaper food products from South America.

Tijs Boelens from Boerenforum said the same thing at VTM NIEUWS. He added: “For us, the European quarter was the focus today because we wanted to make clear to European leaders that their economic policies are wrong policies that do not create food security.” “Neoliberalism is outdated.”

Watch also. “The riots are a result of European agricultural policy”