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The Commission recently published a Communication on a Renewed Partnership with the ACP Group of countries. ACP-EU relations are currently governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that will expire in 2020, therefore the Commission has published recommendations on what the future structure should be. Last year the EESC already drafted a general opinion on the post-Cotonou framework; this new opinion will have to answer specifically to the Commission's communication.
The European Economic and Social Committee greets the Commission's legislative proposals with interest, and notes that some – although far from all – recommendations made in its past opinions have been taken into account. Most importantly, the Committee has repeatedly stated that the future CAP must be driven by a determination to defend the European agricultural model, which is based on the principles of food sovereignty, sustainability and responsiveness to the real needs of farmers and consumers.
The EESC repeats that the European agricultural model cannot operate at world market prices and conditions and does not come free of charge. Any policy that promotes this agricultural model thus requires sufficient financial resources. However, in the current proposals concerning the Union budget for the 2014-2020 period, the resources earmarked for the CAP would be clearly reduced in constant price terms.
Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Amendment to the Commission proposal COM(2011) 628 final/2 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy
Rural development is a horizontal issue that affects practically all policy areas.
The EESC welcomes the Cork 2.0 Declaration that offers strong ongoing support for a rural policy at EU level. The EESC sees itself as a natural partner when it comes to implementing the declaration, and requests that the Commission continue producing progress reports on said implementation.
Rural regions in the EU are not homogeneous and situations vary between and within Member States. These differences mean there is a need for focus and a strategic approach when using available EU funds. This must be based most importantly on initiatives from those living in rural areas.
The opinion examines what has become a key sector in the Euromed region. The uprisings in the Euromed region, besides putting the spotlight on the abuses of autocratic dictators, have also drawn attention to the urgent need for economic and social development, especially in rural areas. Food insecurity and high food prices are set to remain a problem in the region.