By the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

By Simo Tiainen, member of the Diversity Europe Group representing the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) of Finland.

A better economic, social and regional balance in Europe and the competitiveness of EU industries and businesses, including farming, must remain priorities of EU policies. Our competitiveness should be based on sustainable production, employment and economic growth. Only an economically strong Europe can take on roles of leadership and responsibility. In trade negotiations, the principles of European food production, such as sustainability, high standards and food security, must never be compromised.

Farming is of key importance for the strategic, economic, environmental and social challenges of tomorrow. Europeans want to continue eating sustainable and safe food. This is why the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must guarantee the supply of healthy, safe food, the protection of the environment and the countryside, animal welfare, climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, the livelihood of farmers and the viability of rural areas. The EU must defend the European agricultural model based on the principles of food sovereignty and sustainability. The CAP should be simplified and there should be less bureaucracy and more subsidiarity.

Lastly, EU policies should enhance sustainable forest management. The EU needs a strong forestry strategy that takes into account all dimensions of sustainability. It makes it possible to grow more timber and other products in Europe and can make a significant contribution to the development of a new kind of bioeconomy, to carbon neutrality and to jobs and growth. Sustainable forest management, the necessary carbon sinks and the need to preserve biodiversity are fully compatible with one another.