Von der Leyen wants to overcome 'polarised' agricultural debate with dialogue

On Thursday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen launched a strategic dialogue with the agricultural sector to overcome the "polarised debate".

The Strategic Dialogue on the Future of EU Agriculture is a new discussion forum to bring together farmers, their sectoral organisations, the agri-food industry, NGOs and other civil society organisations, financial institutions and academics. "We share the same sense of urgency that things need to improve. Things have to improve, and we must find new, shared and sustainable solutions," said von der Leyen.

Competitive market

She acknowledged that European farmers "operate on a daily basis in a very competitive global market. And they deserve a fair renumeration. Our aim is to support their livelihoods and guarantee European food security."

The timing of the forum's launch could not be better, with disgruntled farmers currently protesting in France, Germany, Romania and Poland. In Belgium, two Walloon farming organisations have also announced action following demonstrations in Brussels by European sectoral organisations.

We all depend on nature

This dissatisfaction appears to be fuelled by the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which significantly increases environmental obligations and legislation under the European Green Deal. "The goals of the Green Deal are existential. We all depend on nature," said von der Leyen, defending the Commission's proposals.

"Even if we do not always agree on everything, we can all agree that the challenges are increasing, that there is competition from abroad, that there is over-regulation at the national level, and that climate change and biodiversity loss are also factors."

Forum participants will meet every four to six weeks and must complete their work by the end of the summer. Their findings will then be presented to the following European Commission and fed into preparations for the next CAP cycle, which starts in 2028.



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