Alex Taylor, Euronews presenter: “What are we going to eat tomorrow? To what extent should the EU take a close look at what is on our plates?
‘Apart from the debate on GMOs and organic farming, what is the vision of the future for agriculture on our continent?
‘To answer your questions on I talk now, Dacian Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, who is a Romanian.
‘So quick questions and rapid answers, let’s start with the first question on I Talk.”
“Hello my name is Josephine and I am Belgian. I have a question. I have heard of the C.A.P (Common Agricultural Policy), I know they get a lot of money from the EU especially for a dozen or so large companies. But I would like to know what it does for small farmers?”.
Alex Taylor: “The CAP is 40% of the budget of the European Union, 56 billion euros, that’s right?”
Dacian Ciolos: “Yes it is just under 40% of the EU budget it may seem high for Europe but on a national level it is very low. This was the first policy of the EU, remains the only economic policy that has been completely rolled out across the community, that is to say that member states have decided their entire national budget for agriculture and they decide together how this money is used.
‘So money actually goes to farmers, not to enterprises, small farmers receive a lot and with the reform that is being proposed, they will receive even more. It provides a very simple and direct scheme for small farmers to work.”
Alex Taylor: “The C.A.P is still very controversial especially for countries that do not have much money for their farmers.”
Dacian Ciolos: “The CAP is a subject that is often discussed because, as I said, it’s the only subject where we really have a unified economic policy, in fact this year we celebrate 50 years.
‘Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is to adapt it regularly to people’s expectations, and to current situations.”
Alex Taylor: “Another question for Mr.Ciolos.”
“My name is Stephanie George. I am Belgian. I would like to know what is the future of agriculture in Europe? Will sustainable development be part of your policy? It interests me personally and I believe it is also of interest to many young people. Thanks very much.”
Alex Taylor: “That’s a big question.”
Dacian Ciolos: “Absolutely, this is the heart of the reform that we are preparing for the policy, so the future of European agriculture is both in the agricultural food production which is sustainable and in the proper management of natural resources. “
Alex Taylor: “What do you mean by production, production methods?”
Dacian Ciolos: “Producing food to feed Europeans as we are doing at the moment but also food for export. The EU mainly exports high quality products. It still remains a big issue to produce food in a world where demand is much greater than supply.
‘But agriculture in Europe plays an increasing role in the management of natural resources, land, soil, water, biodiversity, and also a balanced development of rural areas because agriculture is still an essential business in rural Europe.”
Alex Taylor: “Another question for I talk.”
“Hello Mr Ciolos my name is Marie Dujeu, I am Belgian. I want to know if, where it says on products there is no G.M.O. or that its organic, it is what it says on the label. Can we be sure it is G.M.O. free or that it’s organic? Thank you.”
Alex Taylor: “Can the European Union reassure us all about the food which we put on our plates?”
Dacian Ciolos: “Absolutely, the Common Agricultural Policy is responsible for production methods. My colleague John Dalli’s portfolio is to deal only with security and food safety.
‘We have a system for monitoring, control and traceability. It is a control device which operates separately from the administration that deals with agricultural production. That way we can ensure there is no conflict of interest.”
Alex Taylor: “And does that not cost more?”
Dacian Ciolos: “No, because you can’t put a price on the health of our citizens, and that is essential.
‘And it is equally important for European agriculture to produce high quality healthy produce in a sustainable manner. That is the objective that the Commission has for the future Common Agricultural Policy.”
Alex Taylor: “Another question for I talk.”
“My name is Sandra Isabel Moreno and I am Spanish. Why at this time of crisis do we see farmers dumping their produce because they disagree with European policies?”
Dacian Ciolos: “That is happening less and less. If you may remember that was 10 or 15 years ago when we had many more problems to do with overproduction. Today, we are dealing with crises much more efficiently.”
Alex Taylor: “Why is there still overproduction in a world where there is famine, why? “
Dacian Ciolos: “There really is no systematic over-production. There are situations where the consumer demand drops for various reasons, that happened with milk in 2009. A farmer plans his production 10 to 15 years in advance, he cannot always adapt immediately and make changes to production on demand.
‘That is why a Common Agricultural Policy must exist so it can try balance supply and demand. The markets need to be well supplied for the consumer, the farmer also needs a constant income to live and invest in his business.”
Alex Taylor: “Quick questions, rapid responses that’s always the way on I talk. Next question.”
“My name is Ariane Wilhems, I am Belgian. Mr Ciolos what will the EU do about the issue of farmland? We all know the world population is increasing, the arable lands are shrinking, so how will we feed ourselves in decades to come, in future centuries. Does Europe have an answer to this question?”
Dacian Ciolos: “Yes, first of all the arable land in the EU should support agriculture, a means of production to provide food for its citizens to live. The land biodiversity, the quality of water and soil depend on its sustainability. The C.A.P. promotes the most sustainable methods possible.
‘At the same time, the policy must also allow other countries outside the EU and I think particularly Africa, Asia, South America, to use their resources because if we want to feed the world this will not just be done by agriculture in Europe.”
Alex Taylor: “Are you saying Europe is setting an example?”
Dacian Ciolos: “Not necessarily that, but it is necessary that the decisions taken in Europe do not have a negative effect on the possibility of other countries having their own agricultural policy to enhance their land.”
Alex Taylor: “Last question on agriculture on I talk today.”
“Hello, my name is Barbara, I’m Italian. I want to know what the EU does with all the food surplus when there is a problem of world hunger and, for example starvation in developing countries. Thank you.”
Alex Taylor: “You have already said there is less over production than before.”
Dacian Ciolos: “We can’t atalk about systematic agricultural surplus anymore in the EU. The C.A.P. has changed since 2000. “
Alex Taylor: “Even if it is not systematic it still happens. What foods are over produced?”
Dacian Ciolos: “It exists because there are variations, but it depends, it could be certain vegetables one year, another year it could be milk. But what is clear now is that the demand for food is much greater than supply.
‘So we need to ensure that there is consistency with supply to the markets and also a consistency of farmers’ incomes so they can be encouraged to remain in production.
‘This is the risk in Europe, not the surplus in the future but that we will be left without farmers to continue their work which is both beautiful but difficult.”
Alex Taylor: “So look into your crystal ball what will the C.A.P. be like in 10, 20, 30 years?”
Dacian Ciolos: “It has to be a public policy that helps farmers to produce, to produce quality food by a sustainable use of natural resources. The CAP must be a policy that will reassure consumers about the quality and quantity of food that is on the market.”
Alex Taylor: “Thats a large programme, I hope you get there. Dacian Ciolos thank you for being our guest.”