European Agriculture Council Updates: Food Sovereignty, NGT, and Pesticides

2023-12-13 21:29:00

During the coming months, David Clarinval, Deputy Prime Minister MR, will, like his Belgian colleagues, have a key role to play within the Council of the EU. A role that David Clarinval has already been able to exercise… “As Minister of Agriculture, I participate, every month, in a European “Agriculture and Fisheries” council, explains David Clarinval. However, I have already had to replace my Spanish colleague who was supposed to chair this council on November 20. Following the appointment of the new government in his country, he was unable to go to Brussels.”

A key word

In terms of agriculture, the next few months will be busy. And David Clarinval intends to focus all of his work on one priority: “food sovereignty”: “This is the element that will guide all of our thinking,” explains David Clarinval. With the war in Ukraine, we have become fully aware that depending on other continents is not a good thing. Food sovereignty means both having food in sufficient quantity and quality to feed our fellow European citizens, but also assuming our responsibilities as exporters to towards countries that expect deliveries from us. And I am thinking in particular of the countries of northern Africa. But this sovereignty also means allowing farmers to have income commensurate with the work they carry out. Income that allows you to live, work and invest with peace of mind. Finally, food sovereignty means that we must also ensure the sustainable transition of our food.”

Several hot files

At the table of the Council of European Ministers of Agriculture, several “hot” issues will be discussed, including some geostrategic ones. “With the war in Ukraine, we opened the doors of our market to the import of cereals and animals, explains David Clarinval. Out of solidarity, it had to be done. But this also creates tensions in neighboring countries. Ukraine. Farmers, particularly Bulgarian and Romanian, are no longer able to sell their wheat. It is therefore necessary to ensure that transit corridors are airtight. More generally, it will be necessary to study the impact of a future entry of Ukraine in the EU in terms of agriculture. Because it could become the largest beneficiary of direct aid at the level of the CAP (Editor’s note: the common agricultural policy).”

Among the other big files, we find New Genomic Techniques (NGT). As a reminder, the Commission has proposed a revision of the GMO directive in order to relax the rules. If Belgium intends to abstain, a majority of countries want to move forward on this issue.

“It is thanks to new genomic and robotic technologies, but also to digitalization, that we will be able to enable farmers to meet the challenges of the moment,” says David Clarinval personally. “Contrary to environmentalists, I am certain that it is thanks to science that we will succeed in achieving our food sovereignty. The fundamental error would be to believe that the solution would come through sobriety or ancestral practices.”


The regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides should also be the subject of discussions between ministers. As a reminder, the European Parliament opposed the file. “My objective, however, is to see if it would not be possible to move forward on certain more consensual points,” explains David Clarinval. Finally, the minister also intends to carry out an evaluation of the application of the CAP. “Each member country now has more freedom in the way they implement the CAP,” concludes David Clarinval. “One of my objectives would be to carry out an evaluation in order to highlight good and bad practices. And to be able to take them into account for the post-2027 CAP on which the next commission will work.”

In terms of SMEs and the self-employed, the files on the table of the Council of the EU are less burdensome. However, there is a draft directive which aims to combat late payments between companies which must be finalized. But European states are not very favorable to the Commission’s proposal, which would like payments between companies to be executed within 30 days of the issue of an invoice. “In Belgium, the deadline is 45 days, which could be a good compromise,” recalls David Clarinval. “But some states are very cautious on this issue.”

Financing of SMEs, collaboration contracts, vaccination of poultry… The Belgian presidency will also be the scene of events aimed at studying good practices. David Clarinval intends to present bridging law. “This is something that is almost unique in the world and which has proven itself during the health crisis,” recalls the Minister of Independents. As Luxembourg has requested information on our system, we will take the opportunity to present it at European level.”

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