Stoyan TCHOUKANOV has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) from the Civil Society Organisations' Group (Group III) since 2020. He is the president of the Beef Breeders Association of Bulgaria. Currently a member of the NAT and INT sections, he represents and defends farmers' interests at national and EU level.
What drives you to be an active and engaged EESC and NAT Section Member? How do you make the link with your work (and your life) back home?
Being a Bulgarian farmer, with an engineering background in animal science, I am aware of farmers' challenges and their sometimes difficult decisions by witnessing living conditions in rural areas on the front line. This is why I see it as my duty to represent and defend farmers' interests at national and EU level.
When I was elected to be a member of the Committee, I promised the farming community not to be silent, but to make my voice heard. The NAT section is very active in the field of agriculture, which encourages me to contribute to their work with my experience as a local food producer as well as a president of the Beef Breeders Association of Bulgaria. It also inspires me to learn from different members and countries and bring the EESC messages back home. The work atmosphere and the interaction with colleagues are very enriching for me.
From this position, I have learned that some of the problems farmers are encountering stem from misunderstanding EU climate and environmental goals. For many years, Bulgarian farmers have had little knowledge about EU processes and the existence of the Committee, which is why I find it important to make the link between national and EU level through the work of the EESC.
In my home country, I am responsible for organising various meetings such as the National Farmer's Forum, as well as a hearing on the revision of the directive on the sustainable use of pesticides. Bringing together different stakeholders in the agricultural world has proven how diverse it is. In this capacity, I make sure that the relevant discussion at the EESC is being heard and reflected at national level through the media and National Breeders' Consultative Committee.
As rapporteur of the opinion on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and of the Regulation on the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR), how did you interact and collaborate with stakeholders? What are the main messages of the opinion?
The Commission's proposal on the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive to include cattle farming has been considered as a controversial issue by different Member States – we all have our own realities. As the owner of a cattle farming that will be affected by the implementation of the revision, I can say that sector might be disproportionately affected. But to achieve the aim of the directive, which is to preserve human health and the environment, we had to strike a balance, but also admit that everyone has to give up something.
The EESC promotes a harmonised and equitable approach to finding solutions to socio-economic and environmental challenges. Due to the divergent views of various stakeholders on this directive, I invited three additional members to provide an inclusive and balanced opinion. In addition, several external stakeholders, such as FuelsEurope, Copa Cogeca, EEB and ITUC, were invited to share their insights and views on this important policy instrument to protect ecosystems and human health.
You have recently been appointed as a member of the NAT Bureau. What are your expectations and how would you like to contribute to the strategic work of the Section?
It is a great honour for me to be appointed a NAT Bureau member and equally a stimulus to become more proactive in the work of the NAT section. I want to bring the reality of local farmers to the broader society and integrate them into the various fields of the environmental world. Conversely, I strive to ensure that the work of the Committee and the NAT section is given greater recognition by the Bulgarian agricultural community.
I will constantly seek a balance between the farmer's interest and an environmentally conscious future, between profitable agriculture and the preservation of nature. Nothing is easy. If it were, the solution would already have been found.
In my position in the Bureau, I will constantly seek a balance between the farmer's interest and an environmentally conscious future, between profitable agriculture and the preservation of nature. Nothing is easy. If it were, the solution would already have been found.