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IP/10/1016

Brussels, 30 July 2010

High Level Forum to take on challenges of food sector

The European Commission has decided today to extend the mandate of the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry, upgrading it to a High Level Forum to improve the functioning of the food supply chain as regards contractual relations, logistics and competitiveness. The agro-food industry represents 2% of Europe's GDP and 13.5% of total employment in the EU’s manufacturing sector. It consists of approximately 310 000 enterprises, including some global leaders. It continues to play a fundamental role in satisfying the needs of consumers and contributes an annual production of more than € 600 billion to the EU economy. However, the entire European food supply chain has entered a period of adjustment. Consumer preferences are changing as a result of income and lifestyle developments as well as shifts in population. Customer concerns about food safety, health and prices have also imposed stringent requirements on the sector.

Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “The High Level Group will help achieve future growth and competitiveness in the European agro-food industry, to address the impact of globalisation and take advantage of its opportunities. It should lead to a more competitive agro-food sector for the benefit of consumers, farmers and the industry, which should help to promote high quality food for all European citizens. I am looking forward to cooperating closely with my fellow Commissioners Dacian Cioloş, John Dalli and Michel Barnier, as well as relevant stakeholders, Member States and Members of the European Parliament."

The forum will be representative of all food chain operators. Its work is planned to start in the autumn and end by 31 December 2012.

So far, the European Commission has been engaged in two major activities:

  • The High Level Group, created by the Commission in 2008, issued 30 recommendations (IP/09/1089) which addressed the challenges the European food industry is facing and provided a roadmap of initiatives to boost the European agro-food industry.

  • Adoption of a communication on "a better functioning food supply chain in Europe", which focuses on ten policy initiatives to remedy the causes of problems identified in the food market monitoring exercise.

In the course of their work to date, the Group has examined ways to enhance the growth and efficiency of the whole food supply chain, from the primary sector to the retail sector, whilst securing sustainable, safe and diversified products at affordable prices for the consumer. The discussions focused on: agricultural and environmental policy, the internal market for food, operation of the food chain, research and innovation, trade and exports. The Forum will issue an annual report on the follow-up of the recommendations of the High Level Group and on the implementation of the initiatives proposed by the Commission.


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