The great complexity of agriculture in the Mediterranean makes it impossible to address day-to-day sector-specific problems in depth. However, with this own-initiative opinion, the Committee wishes to initiate a strategic discussion on the future of Mediterranean farming, starting with the consequences that an area of free trade in agricultural products could have for the Mediterranean basin.
In the EESC's opinion, liberalisation in itself should not be the objective of Euromed but, rather, a means to achieve the key objective of economic, social and regional development on both shores of the Mediterranean.
The EESC believes that there should be a transitional phase during which the necessary agricultural changes could be introduced in the countries concerned, helping them to securely face the agricultural challenges raised by the globalisation of the economy, trade and knowledge.
Public policies in the Mediterranean should aim to ensure that the effects of liberalisation are effectively managed.
The EESC believes that policies are needed in the short and long term which establish real compensation, through lines of additional support, for EU producers from the sectors most affected by trade liberalisation.
At the same time, policies should be put in place to diversify activity in rural areas and support farmers and their businesses, helping them to adapt to the new context of production.
The EESC considers it essential to enhance the role of women and young people in farming and rural society. New structural policies and incentives are needed that will give value to women's work, enable them to move out of the informal economy, and foster the creation of community associations as a means of boosting entrepreneurship, which is also needed in the agricultural sphere.
In order to support the agricultural development process in the Mediterranean basin, the EESC believes that, as a priority, the role of local agricultural organisations should be strengthened through development projects designed to improve farmers' representability and involvement in the decision-making process. Institutional cooperation should be accompanied by closer cooperation between civil society players.