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Member of the European Commission Responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development
The Common Agriculture Policy and the EU2020 Strategy (summary of the speech)
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Informal Council of AGRI Ministers
Merida, 1 June 2010
Thank you to the Spanish Presidency. I have been very happy to start my mandate under a Presidency with such a deep knowledge and tradition in agriculture.
Welcome to Hungarian Minister who will of course have his role to play with the Presidency from the start of next year.
The EU2020 strategy relates to Sustainable growth, Smart growth and Inclusive growth – and I think we all agree that the CAP can play a central role in providing these elements in future.
It is important that we highlight ways in which the CAP can better provide these elements, but the farm we visited yesterday already provides all 3 elements of the EU2020 strategy. It showed the importance of managing the land in terms of environmental and biodiversity benefits, using trees and grassland to help reduce emissions, by embracing new production techniques for extensive farming and the production of rare breeds, and maintaining local employment. On top of this, the deseha we visited also produces quality products, which is of course a major benefit to consumers.
It is important that the future CAP stimulates this sort of multi-functional role, leading not only to economic competitivity, but also environmental and social competitivity. We must also use policy to encourage the introduction of innovation into production methods in practice. Through the 2nd Pillar we can bring research and farming practice closer in order to increase more intelligent production methods.
We must combine economic competitiveness with environmental sustainability. In economic terms, yes we are the world´s largest exporter, but we should not forget that only 10% of global agricultural production is traded on world markets. The rest is for regional or local markets. It is important that our policy allows us to maintain this diversity, and allows our farmers to express their own competitiveness. Our current policy has not yet done enough in that respect.
As far as direct payments are concerned. In future they need to be better targeted. In that sense they cannot be based on historic production. We need to find objective criteria applicable to all, which are understood by society as a whole but also highlight the broader benefit that agriculture gives to society.
For Rural Development, we need to reinforce the measures available not only for agriculture and innovation, but also for the rural economy as a whole. We must also do more to boost the link between rural areas and urban areas.
As for market measures. We need a firm framework which provides a market stability, but the market must absolutely be able to play its role and to guide farmers in their production decisions. We must not forget that in maintaining diversity and food safety, the CAP also provides a major support to maintaining the competitiveness of European agriculture.