Statement by Maurizio Reale, President of the section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT)

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As the new president of the NAT section, I would like to start by thanking my organisation, Coldiretti, which has allowed me to devote myself fully in the last few years to my responsibilities in the EESC.

I believe that the topics addressed by the NAT section are at the heart of the debate on the future of Europe. These topics will remain priorities throughout my term as president. The section will address the issues surrounding the future of agriculture and rural areas, but also the importance of ensuring sustainable development through environmental protection, combating climate change and promoting new economic models such as the circular economy.

The adoption of the Opinion on The Future of Food and Farming at the last plenary session is a key contribution to the upcoming debate on the Commission’s proposals on post-2020 financial resources. Our contribution to this process must take into account the key role played by farmers across the whole agrifood sector, for example in the field of employment, as more than 44 million people work in this sector. Farmers' commitment to sustainable agriculture and rural development, searching for solutions to climate-related issues and promoting specifically European farm produce should also be borne in mind, with a transparent approach that caters for the interests of both business and consumers. I firmly believe that a truly strong, common CAP can help meet future priorities in a very sensitive and important sector of the European economy, particularly in the areas of growth and employment.