The EU’s Trojan horse second  – EURACTIV.com

Legend has it that the Greeks tried for over a decade to beat the traditional metropolis of Troy, to no avail. And so, in a devious however notably sensible transfer, they determined to construct an enormous picket horse and depart it on the metropolis gates earlier than (seemingly) crusing away.

Believing the massive picket horse to be a peace providing, the Trojans welcomed the horse into their metropolis as an emblem of their victory.

But there was one thing else afoot (or, ought to I say, a-hoof – ahem).

That evening, after the Trojans had gone to mattress, the Greek troopers emerged from their hiding place contained in the hole horse to open the gates of the town and let within the the rest of the Greek military, which had sailed again underneath the duvet of evening.

Taken unexpectedly, the Greeks had been lastly in a position to conquer Troy from the within.

Still to this present day, the time period ‘Trojan horse’ is used to consult with any type of deception or trick that entails getting a goal to willingly permit an enemy to subvert from inside.

So why am I speaking about this Greek epic this week? Well, as a result of it appears the EU’s agri-food sector is within the technique of being infiltrated with a Trojan horse of its personal – solely, this time, it’s wrapped up in a fairly bundle known as ‘food security’.

Yes, the warfare in Ukraine has stirred up the age-old debate of whether or not the EU has sufficient meals to maintain itself.

The brief reply is – sure, it does, because the Commission emphasised final week in its meals safety communication.

Meanwhile, to cite straight from the horse’s mouth, the Commissioner advised reporters on Monday (28 March) that there’s “no direct risk for food security in the EU”.

“This [war] is not the reason to be afraid about food security in the EU. Our agriculture and our food system are strong,” he stated, declaring that the bloc has a “positive trade balance” in meals.

But this hasn’t stopped the EU government from leaping on the meals safety bandwagon and, in doing so, shelving (or, at the very least pausing) among the EU’s inexperienced ambitions.

So why the pressing concentrate on manufacturing if the bloc is dealing with no imminent meals provide points? Well, in accordance with the Commissioner, the reply is, primarily, ‘just in case’.

“This is the 33rd day of the war, but we don’t know what will be the consequence for the Ukrainian supply of food products for the Middle East country, North African countries,” he advised reporters, including that it’s n(e)igh on not possible to foretell the disruption on the international degree.

“Under these circumstances, it is very important to have the potential for the production of food in the EU,” he burdened.

However, he evaded a follow-up query on whether or not the surplus produced by the bloc can be assured to be channelled in direction of these weak areas.

The Commissioner additionally totally rejected the concept that this was in any approach giving a ‘free pass’ to people who would see the bloc’s inexperienced objectives diminished.

“I don’t like this [narrative] about the agricultural lobby – the farmers want to produce, of course – this is the tool to ensure food security, this is the main obligation of the farmers and we cannot criticise them [for wanting to] produce food,” he stated.

In the primary indicators of splintering resolve, this week the Commission determined to permit the planting of crops on land put aside as ecological focus areas.

Discussions are additionally heating up over a possible derogation of the EU’s nitrates directive after a proposal put ahead by the Dutch delegation throughout a gathering of agricultural ministers on 21 March.

Incidentally, this isn’t the primary time the Dutch have pushed for such a transfer however, due to the duvet of the Ukraine warfare, it’s maybe the closest to succeeding that the thought has ever come.

The EU government insists these measures are non permanent and that, long run, nothing has modified. Time will inform if these assurances are as hole because the Trojan horse.

The factor is, shelving sustainable ambitions till a later date is like closing the steady door after the (Trojan) horse has bolted.

Because the scenario is, to place it bluntly, already night-mare-ish.

This month, we’ve witnessed the warmest climate within the Antarctic on report. Droughts are already plaguing the EU this yr, with talks of culling animals to deal with the dearth of water in some southern member states.

As Winston Churchill put it, people who fail to be taught from historical past (or, on this case, Greek epics) are doomed to repeat it.

Will we glance again at this second because the EU agri-food sector’s Trojan horse that took down the Green Deal? Only time will inform.

By Natasha Foote


This week, EURACTIV is as soon as once more speaking concerning the sizzling matter on everybody’s lips proper now – meals safety – and we hear about how German corporations are cashing in from the Belarus sanctions. We additionally focus on our ideas concerning the newest draft of the Commission’s Sustainable Use of Pesticides proposal, and we’re joined by Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of IPES-Food and UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

Agrifood tales of the week

Commissioner: EU’s sustainable meals technique ‘on pause’, however not forgotten
The warfare in Ukraine has “pressed the pause button” on the EU’s flagship meals coverage, the Farm to Fork technique, however the long run ambition for the sector stays unchanged, in accordance with the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. Natasha Foote has the story.

German fertiliser mining might come out on prime amid Belarus embargo
While the EU has banned the import of potash, a key mineral fertiliser, from Belarus as a part of the sanctions regime, take a look at drilling for added potash mines in Eastern Germany seems to be promising. Julia Dahm studies.

Commission underneath strain to ease guidelines on nitrates use in farming
The European Commission is underneath growing strain to ease guidelines on nitrate use in farming permitting the usage of processed manure in delicate areas to assist address rising fertiliser costs. Natasha Foote explains extra.

Food safety is again on EU leaders’ menu with a worldwide flavour
With international pledges and initiatives to be applied within the subsequent few years, this week’s back-to-back NATO and European Council summits marked the return of meals manufacturing as a software of humanitarian help and geopolitical stabilisation. EURACTIV has you lined.

EU unveils revision of meals high quality scheme amid push to vary the minimal
The newest revamping of the EU’s geographical indications (GIs) coverage was marked as “an evolution” with out substantial adjustments however nonetheless ruffled the feathers of meals producers and a few member states, who would have appreciated to protect the established order of the framework. Gerardo Fortuna has extra.

EU natural sector wants market-driven options, nationwide methods, say MEPs
The European Parliament’s agriculture committee (AGRI) has green-lit a brand new report on the EU’s natural motion plan, wherein it burdened the necessity for market-driven options and extra assist for nations to attract up particular person methods to spice up the sector. Natasha Foote has the small print.

German agri minister: Sustainable farming key for independence from Russia
German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir has joined the European Commission in dubbing agriculture a safety subject. Making agriculture extra sustainable and resilient is a vital step in direction of extra independence from Russia, he stated in an handle to German lawmakers. Julia Dahm has extra

Agroecology: an impediment and a necessity for reaching meals sovereignty
The warfare in Ukraine appears to have put aside, at the very least briefly and partially, Europe’s ecological ambitions for agriculture however this might result in challenges in reaching meals sovereignty. Hugo Struna has extra as a part of EURACTIV’s Special Report on meals sovereignty and the warfare in Ukraine

How the Ukraine warfare has impacted the French agrifood sector
Also featured within the Special Report, is that this overview of how the Ukraine warfare has impacted the French agri-food sector. Check it out right here.

CAP nook

Letter controversy: This week, the Commission despatched the primary batch of remark letters on the brand new CAP strategic plans to the 19 member states that submitted their plans inside the 1 January deadline. The letters concentrate on strengths and weaknesses in every plan, suggesting areas for enchancment. However, the transfer sparked backlash from stakeholders as soon as it emerged the Commission will solely make the letters public as soon as member states have had a possibility to learn and reply to the letters. The Commissioner defined on Twitter that this is because of the truth that the strategic plan proposal was ready earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Therefore the [European Commission’s] intention to publish the observation letters slightly later aims at giving the Member States the opportunity to comment on them,” he stated.

Show me the cash: In a current EURACTIV quiz, solely 58.8% of respondents accurately recognized how a lot of the EU’s price range is dedicated to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), whereas slightly below two-thirds knew which of the CAP monetary devices is the biggest. In this infographic, EURACTIV breaks down precisely how a lot cash will head the place over the following CAP interval.

News from the bubble

AGRIFISH Council – what’s on the menu? Next week’s AGRIFISH Council assembly will contain each Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides in addition to Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski. Besides the adoption of conclusions on the sustainable carbon cycles communication, the assembly may even see an trade of views on the revision of the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) regulation in addition to the Commission’s just lately revealed communication on safeguarding meals safety and reinforcing the resilience of meals methods. Ministers may even focus on the market scenario within the wake of the Ukraine invasion, whereas the Commission will current its proposal to revise the geographical indications scheme and the presidency will present details about the Council’s ongoing work on vaccination towards extremely pathogenic avian influenza.

FARM: the French initiative to keep away from the worldwide meals disaster:  Although it’s nonetheless within the making, we now know a bit of extra concerning the French initiative, FARM (Food on Agriculture Resilience Mission), launched by Emmanuel Macron on the G7 on 24 March, which units out to preempt an upcoming international meals disaster within the context of the warfare in Ukraine. FARM goals to deliver the producer and exporting nations and essentially the most weak nations across the similar desk to agree on a bundle of measures to keep away from the worst-case situation. The three important priorities embody:
Trade. Macron’s precedence is to restrict tensions within the markets by encouraging exports (and subsequently manufacturing) and by being clear about out there shares. The concept is to facilitate exports from the nations which have essentially the most to people who want them.
Solidarity. If there’s a large-scale scarcity, a solidarity mechanism, carried out by the World Food Programme (WFP), for weak nations should be set in movement rapidly.
Investment. Some nations depend upon Russian-Ukrainian imports for greater than 50% of grain, reminiscent of Egypt (60%). The initiative units out to assist improve weak nations’ manufacturing capability to scale back their dependence in a sustainable approach.

Pesticides snapshot: EFSA’s newest annual report on pesticide residues in meals covers greater than 88,000 meals samples collected within the European Union in 2020. Analysis of the outcomes exhibits that 94.9% of samples fell inside legally permitted ranges. For the subset of 12,077 samples analysed as a part of the EU-coordinated management programme (EU MACP), 98.2% had been inside authorized limits.

GMO imports approval: This week the Commission authorised three genetically modified crops (1 soybean, 1 oilseed rape and 1 cotton) and renewed the authorisation for one genetically modified cotton crop used for meals and animal feed. According to an announcement, all of those GMOs have gone via a complete and stringent authorisation process, together with a beneficial scientific evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The authorisation choices don’t cowl cultivation however solely the import. Learn extra.

Rent costs: According to information on agricultural land rents, revealed by Eurostat this week, in 2020, renting agricultural land was the most cost effective in Slovakia, with a hectare costing a mean of €57 for the yr, though the most cost effective areas within the EU for renting agricultural land had been Central Norrland and Upper Norrland in Sweden (each €34 per yr), whereas the very best lease costs had been recorded within the Italian area of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (on common €1,714 per hectare), roughly twice the nationwide common.

Ukraine welcomed into the fold: The Commission began negotiations with Ukraine on Thursday (31 March) to supply the nation the chance to affix the LIFE programme for local weather and atmosphere. By becoming a member of the LIFE programme, Ukraine will be capable to profit from financing to assist restore its atmosphere after the destruction led to by the Russian invasion, be it air pollution, destruction of ecosystems, or different long-term results.

Antibiotic resistance: Antibiotic resistance in Salmonella and Campylobacter micro organism remains to be excessive, in accordance with a report launched this week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Campylobacteriosis was essentially the most reported zoonosis within the EU in 2020 and essentially the most regularly reported reason for foodborne sickness, however the campylobacter micro organism from people and poultry proceed to point out very excessive resistance to ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, that’s generally used to deal with some sorts of bacterial human an infection.

Agrifood information from the CAPitals


Slovak PM urges EU to ship seeds to Ukrainian farmers. Ukrainian farmers at the moment are getting into the sowing interval and the European Union should assist them with seeds to keep away from a worldwide meals scarcity, Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) burdened on Tuesday after assembly with a Ukrainian delegation. Read extra.


French president-hopefuls pitch concepts for generational renewal. With half of France’s farmers set to retire inside the subsequent ten years, generational renewal is a key problem for the nation’s farming sector. Ahead of this month’s presidential election, the totally different candidates have pitched a spread of measures to sort out the issue. Get all the information right here.


Study bemoans lack of protected areas for bugs. Insect biodiversity is waning as a result of they don’t discover sufficient areas to retreat in Germany’s agricultural landscapes, a brand new examine commissioned by environmental NGO NABU warns. According to the report, biodiversity loss can usually be discovered even in protected areas. One purpose for this, in accordance with the researchers, is that these areas are sometimes very small and instantly border farmed land. Through these borders, fertilisers and pesticides can usually protrude into the character safety areas, the examine finds. “To restore biodiversity, we need sufficiently large protection areas where agricultural use and environmental protection are coordinated,” NABU president Jörg-Andreas Krüger concluded.


Spain permits crop manufacturing on fallow land. Up to 600,000 hectares of fallow land in Spain can now be used for pasture or cultivation in accordance with a choice adopted by the federal government on Tuesday (29 March) in an effort to ramp up meals manufacturing. The step is about to implement a proposal made by the European Commission in its current communication on meals security within the face of the warfare in Ukraine. EURACTIV’s accomplice EFE Agro has extra.


Austrian farmers welcome digitalisation efforts. The nation’s farmers union has welcomed the federal government’s step to take a position one other € 1,4 billion in increasing broadband networks in Austria. “The broadband infrastructure is the basis for the digitalisation of rural areas and thus decisive for their future,” the organisation’s director, Norbert Totschnig, stated. So far, lower than half of households in Austria have entry to a broadband connection. With the extra funds, the federal government desires to sort out this subject.


Luxembourg is now free from avian flu. After three months with none new instances, the federal government now formally considers Luxembourg free from avian flu. The information comes as many nations in Europe nonetheless wrestle with outbreaks of the sickness amongst poultry. According to the agricultural ministry, the preventive quarantine measures put in place on the finish of final yr will now be lifted, though the ministry nonetheless calls on all actors to respect biosecurity measures.


Fertiliser producer restarts manufacturing. Azomures, Romania’s largest fertiliser producer, introduced plans to restart manufacturing after the European Commission stated member states might grant support to corporations working within the subject. Get the total story right here.


Greece has adequate shares of agri commodities. Raw supplies can be found however the market wants a while to control itself and to take care of the excessive costs, the nation’s minister of rural improvement and meals, Georgios Georgantas, burdened in an interview on Thursday (24 March). “Our goal is to strengthen the primary sector, to support the farmers to continue to produce. If farmers continue to produce, we have nothing to worry about,” the minister stated. (Georgia Evangelia Karagianni| EURACTIV.gr)


Pork costs are anticipated to extend additional over the Ukraine warfare. The EU nonetheless can’t predict how a lot pork costs will go up due to uncertainties within the international market, however a value shock is anticipated, the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture (HPK) stated. Prices are anticipated to extend quickly for the sake of the survival of the sector, on condition that enter costs have sharply elevated globally and the manufacturing at current is untenable, the chamber defined. In Croatia, pig farming makes up an essential share of agricultural manufacturing, accounting for 25% of its worth in 2020. Croatians yearly devour about 50 kilograms of pork per capita, way over every other kind of meat. The degree of self-sufficiency of personal pork manufacturing is round 65 per cent and an additional lower is anticipated due to the current tendencies, because the variety of pigs within the nation is reducing. (Željko Trkanjec, Euractiv.hr)


4-7 April | European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg

4 April | European Parliament AGRI Committee assembly, together with a dialogue with Commissioner Wojciechowski

4 April | EIT Food on-line course: Trust in Our Food

6 April | AGRIFISH Council assembly – Luxembourg (see above for agenda)

8 April | Meeting of the FAO Council on the impression of the Ukraine-Russia battle on international meals safety

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