EU Parliament’s agriculture committee calls on Commissioner to stand up for farmers

Members of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee sent a letter to Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on Tuesday (20 February), seen by Euractiv, setting out six demands to ease farmers’ discontent. 

“The European farming community needs political leadership,” the letter reads, urging Wojciechowski to take concrete action “without further delay”.

The letter, signed by MEP Norbert Lins, chairman of the committee, also slams the Commissioner for not attending the European Parliament debate on 7 February, when Commissioner European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič outlined the work the executive is doing to respond to the challenges facing agriculture.

The committee’s recommendations address some of the main concerns raised by farmers in recent months, namely the burden of green policies, alleged imbalances in the food chain and competition from third countries.

More flexibility and subsidiarity

MEPs urge the Commission to relax some environmental requirements – the “good agricultural and environmental conditions” or GAEC – in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) until its end date in 2027 and to give member states more flexibility in setting penalties for non-compliance.

The requirements cover the maintenance of soil organic matter, crop rotation and set-aside obligations.

They also call for an assessment of the European Green Deal legislation affecting agriculture and to determine the need for “exceptions, transition periods or alternative proposals”, including “the maintenance of the status quo” to facilitate compliance.

The letter calls for EU countries to be given more flexibility in drawing up their national strategic plans under the CAP. According to the committee, the Commission’s role should be limited  “to safeguarding the basic principles” of EU legislation.

‘Fairness’ across the supply chain and in trade

On market power in the food chain, another key demand, MEPs ask the EU executive to review the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Directive and create a mechanism for “fair price transmission” throughout the value chain.

To this end, the letter encourages “collaboration between sector partners across the supply chain” while “reconsidering competition rules”.

The committee’s move follows calls by several EU leaders to re-examine the balance of market power in the supply chain.

And, with accusations of “unfair” competition from third countries being at the heart of farmers’ protests, the committee calls for mirror clauses – which would ensure that traded products meet the same standards as their EU counterparts – “in all trade agreements, present and future”.

[Edited by Angelo Di Mambro and Nathalie Weatherald]


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