The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has announced that the EU is to embark on a “strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture”.
She confirmed the move during her annual state of the EU speech today (Wednesday, September 13) at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
It is her final “state of the union” speech before next year’s European Parliament elections.
During her address, von der Leyen expressed her gratitude to farmers for producing healthy food every day.
She noted that this is “not an easy task” in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change and “new obligations” on farmers.
She said these factors are “having a growing impact on farmers’ work and farmers’ incomes, and we must bear this in mind”.
The EU Commission president told MEPs that many farmers are “already working hard towards a more sustainable form of agriculture”.
“We need to work together with the farmers and people working in agriculture to tackle these new challenges and that’s the only way we can secure a supply of food for the future for all of us.
“We need more dialogue, we need less polarization.
“We would like to launch a strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture. I am and remain convinced that agriculture and protection of our natural world can go hand in hand, we need both,” von der Leyen said.
No further details were provided about what shape this “strategic dialogue” would take.
The EU Commission president also referenced Europe’s “unique biological diversity”, including around 6,500 species that are only found on the continent.
She said that Europe’s forests are “irreplaceable as a source of goods and services”.
“They absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), they supply wood and indeed other products. They generate fertile soils, they filter the air the water, biodiversity and ecosystem services are absolutely essential for all of us in Europe.
“The loss of nature doesn’t only destroy the foundations of our life, but also the feeling of what people consider home. That is something we must protect.
“At the same time, we have to make sure that food security is in harmony with nature. That remains an essential task,” von der Leyen said.
The EU Commission president also announced a European wind power package to work with industry and member states to fast track permits, focus on skills and access to finance.