FFA2019 post-event blog 3:

Building a green Europe is a top priority

Saturday, Apr 27, 2019

During his special address to a packed room at FFA2019, Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union, set out the consequences for farmers of Brexit. Detained in Luxembourg on EU business, he used a video presentation to brief participants on the way ahead.

With the UK unable to approve the withdrawal agreement reached with the EU27, a no deal is becoming increasingly likely. “This would have serious consequences, in particular new tariffs and controls on our trade with the UK and disruption to value chains across the Channel. The EU is prepared for this scenario. So should you be,” he warned. There would be no status quo.

Whatever the outcome, Brexit will remain a challenge for Europe’s agriculture. “The UK is a net contributor to the EU budget. Its departure will leave a budget gap. Most policies will be impacted, including the common agricultural policy,” he explained.

Alongside Brexit, Mr Barnier pointed to bigger environmental challenges facing farmers: climate change with floods, drought and uncertainty linked to weather conditions, and biodiversity decline. “This is why I have long argued farmers are and must be the first ecologists. Our agriculture depends on the preservation of our natural capital.”

The Brexit negotiator identified building a green Europe as the EU’s top priority in the coming years. It should become a carbon-neutral and more circular economy, lead responsible use of resources and protect biodiversity, but not at the expense of industry or agriculture. “On the contrary, it should be a source of jobs and social cohesion.”

Mr Barnier stressed that the ecological debt being passed to future generations is as serious as the financial one. He proposed a sustainability pact alongside the EU’s existing budgetary stability pact – an initiative Mr Potočnik also later proposed. Urging the audience to become engaged in these developments, he said: “This will not happen without you and an open debate with farmers and professional organisations across Europe.”

Watch videos of all the sessions at FFA2019 here >

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