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Mariann Fischer Boel

Member of the European Commission responsible for agriculture and rural development

Getting the most out of EU quality food and drink

Speaking points at Press conference
Brussels, 15 October 2008

Ladies and gentlemen

You have often heard me say that European farmers enjoy three main advantages

Quality .... Quality .... and Quality

As globalisation spreads, Europe's farmers face growing competition at home and on export markets from low cost producers outside the EU

At the same time, consumer demands are becoming more exacting

If our producers are to compete and meet consumer expectations, they must

  • provide products with the qualities which consumers want
  • guarantee these qualities, and
  • perhaps most importantly, communicate them effectively

We have a wide range of policy measures and specific quality schemes in the EU

But now is the time to reflect on whether they work as well as they can and to ask what more, if anything, needs to be done

That is why I am delighted that the Commission today backed my Green Paper

This will open the debate on how to help European farmers make the most of the quality of the food and drinks they produce

EU farmers already follow some of the most exacting farming requirements in the world

They have the savoir-faire to deliver the product qualities demanded by the market

Instead of seeing these demands as a burden, EU farmers have a real opportunity to turn them to their advantage

By delivering exactly what consumers want, clearly distinguishing their products in the marketplace, and gaining premiums in return

The Green Paper looks at how to:

  • -better communicate EU farming requirements,
  • -simplify marketing standards,
  • -reform EU quality measures, including the famous geographical indications schemes and
  • -develop private sector certification schemes operating in the EU

As this is a Green Paper, I go into the consultation with an open mind

I want stakeholders to get involved and to tell us

How effective existing measures are in delivering guarantees and in communicating the qualities of the products

I also want them to suggest improvements

The consultation period will run until the end of 2008

Responses can be sent in on-line

Based on the results, we will prepare a Communication next year

And if there is a need, this could lead to legislative proposals at a later stage

Thank you

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