Political Hotspot May 2019

The elections of new Members to the European Parliament took place 23-26 May. As IFOAM EU we want to thank all the European citizens in 28 Member States who voted. We also extend our congratulations to the candidates that were elected. We wish them all the best for the five year to come and are looking forward to working together with the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Industry (ENVI), Research and Energy (ITRE), and other committees on all issues related to organic agriculture.

In the coming months, the political parties of the European Parliament (MEPs) will nominate candidates for the role of Commission President – so-called ‘Spitzenkandidat’. The party with the most seats – the European People’s Party according to the provisional results – will receive the first opportunity to attempt to form a majority in the Parliament to back their candidate – Manfred Weber. Following the election of the Commission President, the Commissioners are proposed by the Council of the European Union, based on suggestions made by the national governments. Afterwards, the European Council appoints them, and the European Parliament approves them. The new Parliament and Commission will be in office by around June and October respectively. Have a look at the European Parliament’s infographic visualising the process.

The representatives of the European citizens face many challenges. Climate change, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss to name a few. Consumers acknowledge this by purchasing more organic. Organic production and consumption have been growing for three decades. In 2017, the total land area under organic management in the EU was 14.5 million hectares compared to 11.4 million hectares in 2012. This goes hand in hand with a significant growth of the EU organic retail market, increasing from €22 billion in 2012 to €37 billion in 2017. There are now 460.000 organic farmers in the EU, representing an increase of 70% since 2007.

As the organic movement we believe that it is of vital importance that the elected officials are aware of the importance of organic’s contribution to a better world. Recent studies like the modelling exercise of the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI) shows organics’ contribution to climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. A European food and farming system based on agroecological principles can decrease emissions by up to 47%! Another study published in Nature by Frank Eyhorn et al. draws a similar picture. It concludes that organic drives sustainability in global agriculture and contributes to reaching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To showcase organic’s contribution, IFOAM EU is taking part in several campaigns and activities – in the run-up to and after the elections. Together with several civil society organisations we are calling for an EU food policy to ensure the transition to more sustainable food systems. In parallel, we support the Fair Times campaign, urging the new Members of the Parliament are to establish a fair and sustainable production and consumption agenda benefiting people and the planet. IFOAM EU also supports the Good Food Good Farming campaign. It inspires citizens to get active before and after the elections and stand up for sustainable policies for better food and farming.

To engage with us and policymakers at local, regional, national and European level, our European Organic Congress from 20 to 21 June in Bucharest, Romania. We will also use that opportunity to launch an updated version of our interactive infographic with organic market and production data.

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