Farmers' contribution to food security and keeping rural areas alive needs to be better rewarded. Farm profitability and economic viability is a serious issue in the EU, where farmers' incomes on average amount to just 46.5% of those in other economic sectors.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) believes a fully-funded, strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is essential and rejects any cuts to the CAP budget. The EESC welcomes the legislative proposals on the CAP, with the new focus on increased environmental and climate change ambition, subsidiarity and simplification.
While welcoming the greater freedom the new proposals on subsidiarity would give individual Member States, the EESC is keen to ensure that the CAP remains a common policy with a strong single market.
A strong CAP policy, with a strong CAP budget based on the European Model of Agriculture an Food production, supporting an economically socially and environmentally sustainable European agriculture policy and farming sector involving the highest standards, and contributing to ensuring a competitive agricultural sector, is very important for the European Union and all its citizens.
On 5 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)'s NAT section invited supporters and opponents of the European Citizens' Initiative calling for a ban on glyphosate to debate in its premises. A million supporters from at least 7 member states are needed in order for the Commission to consider taking action about this substance along the demands of the ECI. After two months the initiative has already collected over 640,000 signatures. The ECI includes three requests: firstly, a ban on glyphosate, secondly, a reform of the pesticide approval procedure, and thirdly, setting EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use.
The condition of the European economy, completing the Single Market, trade and Brexit – these are the top issues for European employers' organisations in the forthcoming months. On 29 March 2017, the Directors-General and Secretaries-General of BusinessEurope, EuroCommerce and Copa-Cogega presented their priorities and debated with the members of the EESC Employers' Group.
The COPA (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations) Women's Committee has launched its 4th European Innovation Award for women farmers. This year's title is Women farmers as drivers of innovation and green growth in the European Union.
Five winners, coming from Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden were selected. In rewarding them, the EESC also wishes to acknowledge the contribution made by so many other committed women in rural areas.
The EESC welcomes the fact that the European Commission has made it a priority to simplify the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Increased transparency and legal certainty should go hand in hand with a reduction in red tape for farmers, other beneficiaries, producer organisations and national administrations. A simplified CAP needs to be implemented as soon as possible and farmers should be provided with necessary information and education-based support. For the EESC, it is particularly important to look into the consistency of current requirements, including their impact on the environment, food safety, food availability and job creation.
European industry needs an environment conducive to innovative activity. We must strengthen investment in innovation and foster business dynamism. Investment is needed not only in scientific R&D but also in areas that are becoming key features of corporate success, such as design, software, data, firm-specific skills and marketing. These are some of the ideas that emerged from the conference on the Reindustrialisation of Europe: Food Manufacturing, Innovation and Circular Economy, which took place on 27 October in Milan. The event was hosted by the Employers' Group, together with Coldiretti and Confindustria.