Motion for a resolution - B7-0117/2011Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on rising food prices


to wind up the debate on statements by the Council and the Commission
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Mairead McGuinness, Albert Deß, Gay Mitchell, Jean-Paul Gauzès, Michel Dantin, Béla Glattfelder, Elisabeth Jeggle, Peter Jahr, Filip Kaczmarek, Sandra Kalniete, Jarosław Kalinowski, Giovanni La Via, Astrid Lulling, Véronique Mathieu, Mariya Nedelcheva, Rareş-Lucian Niculescu, Georgios Papastamkos, Maria do Céu Patrão Neves, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Michèle Striffler, Artur Zasada, Sławomir Witold Nitras on behalf of the PPE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0114/2011

Procedure : 2011/2538(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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European Parliament resolution on rising food prices

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 33 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2011 on recognition of agriculture as a strategic sector in the context of food security,

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2010 on fair revenues for farmers: A better functioning food supply chain in Europe,

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2010 on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013,

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on EU agriculture and climate change,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 March 2009 on the Food Prices in Europe,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2009 on the Common Agricultural Policy and Global Food Security,

–   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries (COM(2008)0450),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Tackling the challenge of rising food prices - Directions for EU action (COM(2008)0321),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2007 on rising feed and food prices, and its resolution of 22 May 2008 on rising food prices in the European Union and developing countries,

–   having regard to the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security signed in 2003, where African governments committed to a minimum allocation of 10% of their national annual budgets to agriculture,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas food prices have peaked for the seventh consecutive month between 2010 and 2011, reaching the highest levels since the FAO started measuring food prices in 1990,

B.  whereas commodity price hikes have become a destabilising factor in the global economy and sparked riots and unrest in a number of developing countries in 2008 and most recently in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt,

C.      whereas the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the number of undernourished people in the world decreased globally in 2010 to 925 million people, compared to over one billion in 2009, while hunger remains even higher than before the global economic crises,

D. whereas the estimated growth in the global population from 7 to 9.1 billion will require a 70% increase in agriculture production by 2050, according to the FAO,

E.  whereas the challenge is to produce 'more from less', with an emphasis on sustainable production, due to pressure on natural resources,

F.  whereas poverty and famine still exist in the European Union; whereas 79 million people in the EU still live below the poverty line (60% of the average income of the country in which the person lives); and whereas 16 million EU citizens received food aid through charities last winter,

G. whereas global food stocks are much more limited than in the past, having fallen to a record low during the food crisis of 2007/2008, but have slightly recovered in recent times,

H. whereas ensuring food security for Europe's citizens, providing consumers with food at reasonable prices, and safeguarding adequate farm incomes have been the core objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) since its inception and remain key objectives of the EU at present,

I.  whereas price volatility in agriculture is permanent in nature, as prices respond disproportionately to small variations in the level of production, very frequently as a result of speculation,

J.   whereas global food production can be regularly undermined by a range of factors including the impact of pests and diseases, availability of natural resources and natural disasters, as illustrated in 2010 by the prolonged drought and fires in Russia and the massive floods in Pakistan,

K. whereas climate change will result in more frequent occurrences of natural disasters, thus undermining food security,

L.  whereas recent food and commodity price volatility has raised concerns about the functioning of the European and global food supply chains,

M. whereas the entire supply chain must be taken into account when analysing food prices and their evolution; whereas the food sector is fragmented and the supply chain is long and highly complex, comprising many intermediaries,

N. whereas the Commission's communication (entitled 'A better functioning food supply chain in Europe' COM 2009/0591) identifies serious problems in the supply chain such as abuse of dominant buyer power, unfair practices in contracting (including late payments), unilateral contractual modifications, advance payments for access to negotiations, restricted market access, lack of information on price building and the distribution of profit margins throughout the food chain, closely linked to increased concentration in the input, wholesale and retail sectors,

O.  whereas farmers incomes fell dramatically in 2009 after a decade of income stagnation, due largely to difficult market conditions and rising costs of production; whereas agricultural incomes are notably lower (by an estimated 40% per working unit) than in the rest of the economy, and income per habitant in rural areas is considerably lower (by about 50%) than in urban areas,

P.  whereas according to a memorandum published by Eurostat in May 2010 EU agricultural employment has decreased by 25% since 2000 (from 14.9 million full-time jobs to 11, 2 million),

1.  Affirms that global food security is a question of the utmost urgency for the EU and calls for immediate and continual action to ensure food security for EU citizens and at global level; stresses that food should be available at reasonable prices for consumers, while at the same time a fair standard of living for farmers should be ensured;

2.  Considers that CAP reform must take into account the current situation, ensuring a strong first pillar to support farm incomes, the continuation of agricultural activity in rural areas and the provision of market support measures;

3.  Stresses that a strong and sustainable agricultural sector across the EU and a thriving and sustainable rural environment, ensured by a strong CAP, are vital components in meeting the food security challenge;

4. Emphasises the importance of the CAP as a means to secure food production in the EU; believes that the CAP has provided EU citizens with a secure food supply since its inception in 1962; stresses the need for Community agriculture to continue to play that role in the future;

5.  Affirms that the EU has a duty to ensure food security for its citizens and that continuing farming activity in the EU is key in this regard; draws attention to declining farm incomes in the EU, caused by rising production costs and price volatility, which impact negatively on farmers’ ability to maintain production; highlights the costs that European farmers have to bear in meeting the highest food safety, environmental, animal welfare and labour standards in the world; stresses that farmers must be compensated for these additional costs and for providing public goods to society;

6.  Stresses that the right to food is a basic and fundamental human right and it is achieved when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to suitable, safe (from the point of view of health) and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life;

7. Is conscious of the great challenge climate change poses to achieving food security, especially through an increase in the frequency and scale of climatic events, such as droughts, floods, fires and storms; notes the unilateral actions taken by countries or regions impacted by climatic events and the knock on effects of such measures on world markets;

8. Points out that agriculture is a key sector in most developing countries, heavily dependent on primary commodities, which are particularly vulnerable to price fluctuation;

9. Calls on the EU to support measures aimed at rural development, increasing investment in farming and food security, and looking particularly at urgent hunger needs, small-scale farming and social protection programmes;

10. Calls on the EU and developing countries to promote land ownership as a tool for reducing poverty and guaranteeing food security, by strengthening property rights and facilitating access to credit for farmers, small businesses and local communities; stresses the significant importance of new investments in enhancing capacities of small farmers, more efficient water management technologies and restoration of soil nutrients;

11. Highlights the importance of developing agriculture in the developing world and the importance of allocating an appropriate share of EU ODA to the agriculture sector; regrets that there has been a dramatic reduction in the level of development aid allocated to agriculture since the 1980s and welcomes the recognition of the need to reverse this trend; calls on the Commission to priorities agriculture in its development aid, including assistance to farmers in accessing markets;

12. Points out that it is necessary to introduce better agricultural production methods in developing countries, including low-cost technologies, provide research in agriculture, and strengthen productivity - in order to enhance the sustainability and mitigate the negative effects of food insecurity;

13. Points out that the humanitarian food assistance should match the needs, challenges and structural constraints in developing countries; in this respect underlines the importance that food assistance takes into account local production, distribution, transport and marketing capacities of these countries contributing to building the bases for their long-term food security;

14. Recalls that energy security and food security are very closely linked; recognises that energy costs are a key factor in determining the level of profitability of agriculture, which is in the main oil dependent; encourages measures that incentivise farmers to become more energy efficient and develop alternative energy supply sources; recalls that more consistent support for research and development and advisory services is needed;

15. Considers, however, that the increased drive to develop renewable energy sources and meet the 2020 targets must take into account the impact on food production and supply; stresses the delicate balance involved in meeting the food/fuel challenge;

16. Notes with concern escalating farm input costs, which are rising faster than agricultural commodity prices; is concerned that dramatic increases in input costs could result in reduced usage, leading to reduced farm output which would exacerbate the food crisis in the EU and in the world; stresses therefore that the supply and price of farm input must be addressed as a matter of urgency;

17. Emphasises the importance of publicly funded research which serves to promote food security; calls for investment in research not only into individual new technologies but also into comprehensive farming systems which will serve the aim of long-term food security; stresses in this connection the pioneering role which could be played in this field, for example, by a EU technology platform for ecological agricultural research;

18. Considers that, in accordance with the EC Treaty, it is in the EU public interest to maintain an adequate level of producer and consumer prices and to ensure fair competition, especially with regard to strategic merchandise such as agricultural and food products;

19. Believes that, while competition provides consumers with food at competitive prices, farmers must be provided with a stable income by prices which cover their production costs and fair remuneration for their work, not least to ensure a secure supply of good-quality food;

20. Expresses concern with low farm incomes in the EU; affirms that decreased incomes due to rising production costs and price volatility impact negatively on farmers ability to maintain production; firmly believes that food security will be compromised if these issues are not sufficiently addressed;

21. Highlights the problems faced by farmers at times of extreme market and price volatility; draws attention to the difficulties that farmers encounter in attempting to forward plan at times of extreme volatility; urges the Commission to introduce permanent and robust measures to address volatility in agricultural markets as a matter of urgency; believes that this will be a key determinant in ensuring that production is maintained in the European Union;

22. Stresses that it is not possible to take effective action against major price fluctuations without intervention stocks or strategic stocks; considers, therefore, that the role of market intervention instruments must be enhanced in the future CAP;

23. Notes that among the factors that most influence the price transmission mechanism and the gap between consumer and producer prices are: increasing concentration along the food supply chain, the degree of product processing, price rises linked to other external cost factors and speculation in agricultural commodities;

24. Considers that the factors contributing to price increases in agricultural raw materials need to be fully understood and addressed in an integrated and comprehensive way; underlines the need for an integrated political response and a comprehensive strategy to address the issue of price increases in agricultural raw materials;

25. Notes the Commission Communication on challenges in commodity markets and raw materials and welcomes the Commission's attention to the issue thus far; raises concerns however with the Commission's reliance on information flows as a solution to addressing volatility in markets; believes a stronger approach to tackling the issue may be necessary, particularly with regard to increasing transparency in commodity markets;

26. Believes that financial and agricultural markets today are more intertwined than ever; considers that a European response alone is no longer sufficient and that Europe should act in concert with third countries and international organisations on price volatility and food security;

27. Invites the G20 to coordinate the creation of preventative mechanisms against the excessive fluctuation of prices and to work towards regulation, specifically designed to tackle food and agricultural crises; calls on the G20 to ensure convergence of food and agricultural commodity regulation and to involve countries that are not part of the G20;

28. Calls on the Commission to include adequate proposals in the upcoming reviews of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) and the Market Abuse Directive to address the concerns in food and agricultural commodity markets;

29. Supports, in this context, a revision of the existing legislation on financial instruments, which should provide for more transparent trading; recalls that financial instruments should serve the economy and help agricultural production surmount crises and climatic events; at the same time, speculation should not be allowed to threaten otherwise efficient agricultural holdings;

30. Underlines the important role currently foreseen for the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in overseeing commodity markets; invites the Commission to reflect upon the possibility of giving ESMA more powers to prevent manipulation and abuses in commodity markets;

31. Considers that a targeted global system of food stocks (both emergency stocks to reduce hunger and stocks to be used to regulate commodity prices) would be beneficial, helping to facilitate world trade when price spikes occur, warding off recurring protectionism and easing the pressure on world food markets;

32. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.