Conclusions from the Belgian Presidency on the future of agriculture in Europe 

During the AGRIFISH Council meeting on 24 June, a consensus was not reached among Member States regarding the ‘Council Conclusions on the Future of Agriculture.’ Out of 27 Member States, 25 supported the text, with Romania (RO) opposing and Slovenia (SL) abstaining. Both RO and SL criticized the ‘external convergence’ clause within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), advocating instead for equal income support among Member States. 

In the absence of consensus, the Belgian Presidency (BE PCY) issued Presidency Conclusions, which were supported by a majority of Member States. While these conclusions carry less formal weight than Council conclusions, they nonetheless emphasize significant aspects of the agricultural sector’s future. 

The presidency’s conclusions highlight the critical role of agriculture in ensuring food security and strategic autonomy, addressing challenges such as climate change, geopolitical tensions, and administrative burdens. Key elements outlined in the conclusions include: 

  1. A Strong and Competitive Agricultural Sector
  • The agricultural sector’s contribution to sustainable economic growth through bio-economy, circular economy, and innovative methods. 
  1. Fostering Innovation and Sector Cooperation
  • The importance of research and innovation in achieving sustainable, safe, healthy, and affordable food. 
  • Encouragement of European initiatives to build robust knowledge flows and accelerate innovation. 
  • Support for bioeconomy, biotechnology, and nature-based practices. 
  1. Simplification to Reduce Administrative Burden
  • Monitoring and addressing sources of administrative burden and complexity. 
  • Emphasizing Member States’ role in managing and distributing EU funds and improving the situation of farmers. 
  1. Support for Young Farmers
  • Recognizing the need for investments in infrastructure and innovation to support the next generation of farmers. 
  1. Climate Change Resilience
  • Ensuring food security and long-term resilience through the preservation of ecosystems. 
  • Balancing socio-economic realities with competitiveness and profitability in the agri-food sector. 

Although there are no specific mentions of Plant Protection Products (PPPs) or biocontrol, the conclusions touch upon relevant elements such as competitiveness, simplification, and innovation. Notable excerpts include: 

A Strong and Competitive EU Agricultural Sector 

  • “Emphasizes the contribution and potential of agriculture to sustainable economic growth, including bio-economy, circular economy, resilient food supply chains, and innovative methods and nature-based practices.”  (Here IBMA sees scope to promote biocontrol) 

Fostering Innovation and Sector Cooperation 

  • “Highlights the pivotal role of research and innovation in sustainable and competitive agricultural production and food processing.” 

The Need for Simplification 

  • “Calls on the Commission to continue monitoring administrative burden and complexity affecting farmers and address these issues.” 

Resilience to Climate Change 

  • “Recognizes the importance of ecosystem preservation for food security and long-term agricultural resilience.” 

The AGRIFISH Council’s inability to reach a consensus underscores the complexity and differing priorities among Member States regarding the future of European agriculture. The presidency conclusions, however, provide a framework for addressing key issues and guiding future policies. 

You can download the full document here.