Welcome note December 2019
After a lengthy process the European Parliament approved Ursula von der Leyen’s team of Commissioners on 27 November. The College of Commissioners took office on 1 December and will be in place for the next five years. For the first time, a woman leads the European Commission and this College of Commissioners has the largest proportion of female Commissioners to date.
The Commissioners whose work is of particular interest for the organic movement are:
- Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development,
- Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries,
- Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and
- Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for, Health and Food Safety.
During their first days in office, Mr Wojciechowski and Ms Kyriakides attended the EU Agricultural Outlook Conference. At the European Commission’s annual conference in Brussels on 10-11 December, key European stakeholders discussed the future of agriculture in Europe and the challenges that lie ahead. On December 11, in parallel, Commissioner von der Leyen presented the European Green Deal to the European Parliament.
Thanks to tireless efforts of IFOAM EU, organic features prominently on the political agenda. It’s seen as a key contributor to the European Green Deal – “the area under organic farming will also need to increase in Europe” – and the “Farm to Fork” strategy clearly mentions organic as one of the key sector to promote (see also the political hot spot of this newsletter).
At the EU Agricultural Outlook Conference, Mr Wojchiechowski told the audience that he would be setting up an action plan for organic farming in 2020 and that the DG AGRI services were already working on an advanced draft and invited suggestions and proposals. Organic farming is key to “achieving the European Green Deal, making it a key element of the Farm to Fork Strategy.”
His colleague, Ms Kyriakides, insisted that pesticides are “a major concern for our citizens,” and she wants to agree “ambitious targets on pesticides and fertilisers to substantially reduce the risks associated with them”. She also wants to cut the use of antimicrobials in farm animals.
I am happy that the organic principles and the vision of the organic movement have found their way to the political agenda and I would like to thank our members, our board and the office staff for their hard work in doing so.
We will continue the good work and open dialogue that we are having as a movement with the new Commission and their Cabinets. We want to make sure that organic agriculture is part of the solution and plays an important role in combatting the climate and biodiversity crisis we are facing.
Transforming the food system is our vision for 2030. To make this a reality, three strategic goals guide our work as IFOAM EU. December is always a moment to look at what was done in the past, and I am happy to see that we have worked hard to make our vision becoming a reality. And as you read earlier, we are succeeding!
To bring ‘Organic on every table’, we have been advocating for a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that rewards farmers who do more for the climate and the environment. We also worked tirelessly to ensure that the Delegated and Implemented Acts of the new organic regulation that will enter into force in 2021 are suited for the realities of organic production.
Of course, we worked on the proper implementation of the legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), in line with the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2018 stating that new genetic engineering techniques are GMOs and should be subject to risk assessment, traceability and labelling.
Our efforts to achieving ‘Fair play – Fair pay’ include our active follow-up of the legislative proposal on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs), which resulted in the official recognition of the legislative under the name Directive (EU) 2019/633. This as well as our publication on ‘Taxation as a tool towards rue cost accounting ‘, which was launched during the Best Economy Forum in spring this year are major steps towards a fairer and more transparent food and farming system.
Last, but not least, we also worked ‘Improve – Inspire – Deliver’, the third of our strategic goals. IFOAM EU is involved in many research projects, for example, the four-year project RELACS, researching alternatives for contentious inputs in organic farming. Furthermore, the 2019 edition annual European Organic Congress focused on ‘Innovation and technology: How organic improves, inspires & delivers’.
In December, our activity peaked with events such as the final event of the SME Organics project, a second very successful edition of IFOAM EU Meets Business and TP Organics’ 4th edition of the Organic Innovation Days. During the Innovation Days, the Technology Platform for Organics launched the research priorities for the organic movement in the new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for Organics and Agroecology.
These are just few examples of the work we are performing in Brussels to make Europe More Organic!
Looking ahead at 2020, we will continue working with our members, EU institutions, Member States, like-minded NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to promote organic and make sure that the political agenda can be realised ambitiously. We promise to keep fighting for better policies to combat the climate and environmental crisis.
Wishing you happy holidays and looking forward to meeting many of you in person at Biofach 2020.