A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
Focus on issues

White Paper on the future of Europe: A bout of fatigue at the DG AGRI?

Momagri Editorial Board

March 20, 2017

The Treaty of Rome will celebrate its 60th anniversary on March 25, 2017. Following the Brexit, the rise of Euroscepticism, Donald Trump’s reexamination of free trade, the crisis involving migrants and the ineffectiveness on climate, the European framework is again at a crossroads: Will member states have the political courage to revive it?

In order to offer prospects of such stimulus, the Commission conducted a foresight exercise based on the various development scenarios for Europe by 2025. In his foreword, President Jean-Claude Juncker wants the celebration to be “the start of a new chapter” and positions the White Paper
1 published in early March as the European Commission’s contribution to the discussions that must be launched so that the European Union can “shape its own destiny and carve out a vision for its own future”.

“Carrying on”, “Nothing but the single market”, “Those who want to do more”, “Doing less more efficiently” and “Doing more together” are the titles of the five proposed scenarios that reject the concept of “a multiple speed Europe”. A European Defense program and an Energy Union structure represent the key prospects to expand the construction of Europe. There is little to chew on regarding economic and social issues. And more importantly, while the Common Agricultural Policy is one of the pillar of the European construction: nothing or almost nothing!

The only two references to agriculture concern the problem to publicize the impact of “the EU’s positive actions” (“communities are not always aware that their nearby farm, their transportation network or universities are partly funded by the EU”, p.12) and the Galileo Program (“farmers can access affordable, real-time weather and crop management data thanks to a fully-functioning European satellite system”, p. 23).

How did we get to the point where the European executive branch no longer has anything to propose on agricultural issues, at a time when farmers’ economic conditions are disastrous and the challenges to the European agriculture in the 21st century are so massive? Can we resolve ourselves that the pooling of food and agricultural sovereignties leads to relinquishing even the concept of such sovereignty sixty years later? In this context, it is difficult to take seriously the main objective posted next to the Energy Union project––that is the security of supply.

Over the different scenarios, the issue of trade policy is repeatedly covered, either to bring up institutional developments in the negotiation of treaties to resolve “internal dissensions” or to introduce the concept of “innovative trade agreements” without any real explanation. With a little imagination, one would be pleased to consider trade agreements that are different from those discussed today, and that are not reduced to free trade. Concerning agricultural issues, there were, in the not too distant past, such agreements that aimed to stabilize international trade (with the condition of a trading relationship and the existence of exporters’ stocks for instance), or to provide a special access to countries in search of development. It would not be so excessive to think about “re-politicizing” bilateral trade agreements by best enhancing the powerful economic engine represented by the world’s largest total consumption group––the 440 million European consumers of the EU-27.

This would involve breaking from the guideline that consists in seeing the European single market as the heart of universal and nonpolar free trade that will never happen, but taking stock of the needed multi-polarization of the world. And it is really the idea of building a European pole that was in the minds of Europe’s founding fathers, when they decided to give themselves the chance to exist in spite of the US-USSR bipolarization, and turn coal, steel and agriculture into privileged sectors of the European construction. If Europe does not equip itself with the resources to rethink its agricultural policy, there is little to bet on the European construction.

A very sad anniversary, if we leave it at that...

1 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/white_paper_on_the_future_of_europe_en.pdf

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Paris, 28 April 2017