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What if 'rewilding' could help reverse biodiversity loss in Europe?

18-09-2020

Biodiversity is in crisis across the globe: species extinctions and a loss of nature occurring at rates unprecedented in human history, and with the EU no exception, our biodiversity and the essential value it brings are under threat. Could 'rewilding' help restore Europe's nature?

Biodiversity is in crisis across the globe: species extinctions and a loss of nature occurring at rates unprecedented in human history, and with the EU no exception, our biodiversity and the essential value it brings are under threat. Could 'rewilding' help restore Europe's nature?

European Union food system

10-09-2020

The European Union (EU) food system is a complex and integrated structure of sectors whose governance is ensured by various EU sectoral policies. Its strengths and weaknesses became evident during the coronavirus crisis: food supplies were assured but the pandemic also revealed where action is needed to avoid disruptions threatening food supply. The recent launch of the EU 'Farm to Fork' strategy provides a first attempt at a common EU food policy, outlining the way forward for all food-related sectors ...

The European Union (EU) food system is a complex and integrated structure of sectors whose governance is ensured by various EU sectoral policies. Its strengths and weaknesses became evident during the coronavirus crisis: food supplies were assured but the pandemic also revealed where action is needed to avoid disruptions threatening food supply. The recent launch of the EU 'Farm to Fork' strategy provides a first attempt at a common EU food policy, outlining the way forward for all food-related sectors. It aims to bring sustainability to the heart of each step of the food chain and constitutes a framework for any further plans. This Briefing sets out the progress to date towards an EU food system and the issues posed by the current coronavirus crisis. The table at the end of the text explores a range of ongoing or potential initiatives for a sustainable EU food system in the future.

The EU pig meat sector

01-09-2020

The 150 million pigs reared across the EU represent the largest livestock category before that of bovines, and the EU pig meat sector alone accounts for nearly half of total EU meat production. Germany, Spain and France contribute more than half of the total amount of pig meat produced in the EU. The sector is highly diverse, with huge differences in rearing methods and farm sizes across the Member States: from backyard farming to industrial installations with thousands of animals. Within the common ...

The 150 million pigs reared across the EU represent the largest livestock category before that of bovines, and the EU pig meat sector alone accounts for nearly half of total EU meat production. Germany, Spain and France contribute more than half of the total amount of pig meat produced in the EU. The sector is highly diverse, with huge differences in rearing methods and farm sizes across the Member States: from backyard farming to industrial installations with thousands of animals. Within the common agricultural policy (CAP), the pig meat sector is covered by the common organisation of markets regulating trade and providing support in the event of a sectoral crisis. Farmers can also receive rural development funding under the second pillar of the CAP, for example, to make necessary investments on their farms. A large number of EU legislative acts apply to this sector, covering various aspects of pig farming: environmental protection, food safety and public health, organic production, animal health and welfare. However, evidence shows a lack of compliance with EU regulations on the welfare of pigs and the persistence of harmful routine practices. Another challenge is the air, soil and water pollution caused by intensive pig farming, which takes a heavy toll on the environment. The EU is currently the world's top exporter of pig meat products and its exports have been boosted by the fall in production in Asia, where African swine fever is decimating millions of animals. Increased demand for EU pork pushed prices to a peak in early 2020. In the coming years, the pig production sector may be impacted by the evolution of the policy environment: negotiations on a new CAP are ongoing and the recently published Green Deal initiative and Farm to Fork strategy, both of which promote greener and more sustainable agriculture and food systems, mention the future revision of legislation relevant to the pig sector, including on animal welfare.

What if insects were on the menu in Europe?

03-07-2020

Insects, while commonly consumed elsewhere in the world, have long been off the menu in Europe – but they could soon be creeping their way onto our plates. Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is now gaining serious interest – is it set to take Europe by swarm?

Insects, while commonly consumed elsewhere in the world, have long been off the menu in Europe – but they could soon be creeping their way onto our plates. Entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, is now gaining serious interest – is it set to take Europe by swarm?

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - July 2020

03-07-2020

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Agroforestry in the European Union

25-06-2020

Agroforestry is a very ancient agricultural practice that is still widely implemented in certain EU countries, and is gaining renewed interest due to its many economic and environmental benefits. It is a dynamic system combining trees, crops and/or livestock on the same area of land in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. Prominent examples are the dehesa in Spain (oak trees with livestock grazing underneath) and the Fennoscandian area (covering Finland, Norway, and Sweden in their ...

Agroforestry is a very ancient agricultural practice that is still widely implemented in certain EU countries, and is gaining renewed interest due to its many economic and environmental benefits. It is a dynamic system combining trees, crops and/or livestock on the same area of land in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. Prominent examples are the dehesa in Spain (oak trees with livestock grazing underneath) and the Fennoscandian area (covering Finland, Norway, and Sweden in their entireties, and a part of Russia), where reindeer husbandry is practised. The main types of agroforestry include the silvopastoral and silvoarable systems, forest farming, hedgerows, riparian buffer strips and kitchen gardens. A number of studies have attempted to classify the existing systems, a task made difficult by the number of possible combinations of woody components/crops/livestock and the variety of criteria to consider. A comprehensive European project on agroforestry suggests that it covers a total area of more than 15 million hectares in the EU, or 52 million hectares if reindeer husbandry is included. Agroforestry systems, which are sustainable and multifunctional, provide many environmental benefits. They contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, protect the soil, enhance biodiversity and improve the overall condition of the landscapes. That way, they are also beneficial to the local rural economy, as those improved landscapes offer cultural and recreational opportunities. Moreover, agroforestry farmers can diversify their production, reduce some costs and achieve better productivity. However agroforestry is usually more complex and knowledge-intensive than conventional agriculture and may involve a greater administrative burden. Agroforestry enjoys EU-level recognition and support from the common agricultural policy (CAP). Farmers can receive direct payments per hectare of land under agroforestry, as well as support for the establishment or maintenance of agroforestry systems under the rural development strand of the CAP. Innovation and research in this field may also be supported. The European Parliament has recognised the benefits of agroforestry in several resolutions, and called for more effective support for a range of sustainable production methods, including agroforestry.

'Farm to Fork' strategy: Striving for healthy and sustainable food

17-06-2020

Launched on 20 May 2020, the 'Farm to Fork' strategy put forward the EU’s ambition for making its food system a model of sustainability at all stages of the food value chain. Ahead of the desired engagement of institutions, stakeholders and citizens in a broad debate, the strategy is already high on the agri-food community’s agenda.

Launched on 20 May 2020, the 'Farm to Fork' strategy put forward the EU’s ambition for making its food system a model of sustainability at all stages of the food value chain. Ahead of the desired engagement of institutions, stakeholders and citizens in a broad debate, the strategy is already high on the agri-food community’s agenda.

European Commission follow-up to European Parliament requests 2017 - 2019

02-06-2020

This study seeks to present a comprehensive overview of non-legislative resolutions adopted by Parliament between January 2017 and May 2019 on the basis of own-initiative reports, in the light of the response provided by the Commission and the subsequent follow-up documents and related actions undertaken by the Commission up to 1 January 2020.

This study seeks to present a comprehensive overview of non-legislative resolutions adopted by Parliament between January 2017 and May 2019 on the basis of own-initiative reports, in the light of the response provided by the Commission and the subsequent follow-up documents and related actions undertaken by the Commission up to 1 January 2020.

EU agricultural policy and climate change

19-05-2020

In December 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and across the globe – a recognition of the challenges that the EU faces in this area. The agricultural sector is not only affected by climate change but also contributes significantly to it, according to some assessments. Evidence from a range of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre points to the impacts that climate change ...

In December 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and across the globe – a recognition of the challenges that the EU faces in this area. The agricultural sector is not only affected by climate change but also contributes significantly to it, according to some assessments. Evidence from a range of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre points to the impacts that climate change will have on yields, length of growing season, water availability, biodiversity, and habitats. The pattern of climate change will have a differential impact in terms of the regions affected. A clear north–south divide emerges, with countries of southern Europe likely to face declining yields due to increased temperatures and reduced precipitation. In the legislative proposals for the common agricultural policy (CAP) for the post-2020 period, the European Commission has set a high level of ambition in both environmental and climate change objectives, taking into account the fact that agriculture is responsible for around 10 % of the EU's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Green Deal outlined in the Commission's political guidelines aims to make Europe the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. A range of mitigation and adaptation responses are available, designed to curb GHG emissions and reduce vulnerability to climate change. The EU can use the CAP as a tool to influence policy-making in the area of climate change. In fact, data on the operation and impact of the CAP on climate change and GHG emissions have been examined using a range of sources, including a study undertaken for the Commission. One of its conclusions is that there are a range of CAP measures that are only partially relevant to climate needs, as the CAP is constrained by the lack of compulsory implementation. Additionally, a series of inconsistencies and 'missed opportunities' were identified in the study. It remains to be seen how such findings will influence the content and design of the new CAP strategic plans, given that the Commission's future proposals for them include giving greater discretion to Member States.

Las regiones ultraperiféricas de la UE

15-05-2020

Las regiones ultraperiféricas de la Unión Europea tienen derecho a recibir un trato especial debido a las dificultades estructurales a las que se enfrentan, como por ejemplo su gran lejanía, difícil topografía o dependencia económica de algunos productos, que pueden obstaculizar gravemente su desarrollo. Las políticas en materia de cohesión, agricultura y pesca disponen de mecanismos de apoyo específicos, y la Comisión presentó medidas destinadas a ayudar a las regiones ultraperiféricas en comunicaciones ...

Las regiones ultraperiféricas de la Unión Europea tienen derecho a recibir un trato especial debido a las dificultades estructurales a las que se enfrentan, como por ejemplo su gran lejanía, difícil topografía o dependencia económica de algunos productos, que pueden obstaculizar gravemente su desarrollo. Las políticas en materia de cohesión, agricultura y pesca disponen de mecanismos de apoyo específicos, y la Comisión presentó medidas destinadas a ayudar a las regiones ultraperiféricas en comunicaciones publicadas en 2004, 2008 y 2012. No obstante, debido a que las regiones ultraperiféricas se seguían enfrentando a varios problemas en ámbitos como la movilidad, el desempleo y el cambio climático, se iniciaron debates sobre la formulación de una nueva estrategia, que se publicó en octubre de 2017. Tras un amplio proceso de consultas con las partes interesadas, la Comunicación de 2017 ofreció un nuevo enfoque para apoyar el desarrollo de las regiones ultraperiféricas mediante la optimización de sus activos, la explotación de las nuevas oportunidades disponibles para el crecimiento y la creación de empleo, así como una mayor atención a sus circunstancias y necesidades específicas. Con este fin, la Comunicación propuso una serie de medidas concretas y coordinadas para su adopción a nivel de la Unión, de los Estados miembros y de las regiones ultraperiféricas, y pidió una asociación más fuerte entre los tres niveles. En mayo de 2018, la Comisión Europea presentó un amplio conjunto de propuestas para el período 2021-2027, proporcionando así el marco legislativo necesario para conducir esta estrategia más allá de 2020. Teniendo en cuenta las necesidades específicas de las regiones ultraperiféricas en un total de veintiuna propuestas, la Comisión ha garantizado la continuación de muchas de las medidas especiales que apoyan su desarrollo. Sin embargo, las regiones ultraperiféricas han respondido de forma desigual a estas propuestas, particularmente en cuanto a las reducciones propuestas de las tasas de cofinanciación y los recursos financieros. El informe de la Comisión Europea sobre la aplicación de la Comunicación de 2017, publicado en marzo de 2020, considera que se han logrado resultados específicos y que el proceso de aplicación de la Comunicación se dirige en la dirección adecuada. Pero el desarrollo continúa a la zaga en las regiones ultraperiféricas, por lo que está claro que sigue habiendo problemas. Queda por ver si la estrategia de 2017 y las medidas especiales presentadas para después de 2020 serán suficientes para cerrar la brecha de desigualdades con respecto al resto de la Unión y lograr los ambiciosos nuevos objetivos del Pacto Verde. Esta es una versión revisada y actualizada de un briefing de enero de 2018.

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