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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,
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Cork 2.0: Back to the future?

September 12, 2016


On 5th to 6th September the European Conference on Rural Development was held in Cork, Ireland, 20 years after the Cork 1996 declaration, often regarded as the founding statement for the second pillar of the CAP.

This new declaration, entitled “A better life in rural areas”1, is the result of work that over two days, brought together 300 European, American and Chinese participants in 4 workshops2. It provides 10 policy guidelines for improving the second pillar of the CAP after 2020: promoting rural prosperity, strengthening rural value chains, investing in rural livelihood and sustainability, preserving the rural environment, managing natural resources, promoting responsibility for the climate, encouraging knowledge and innovation, strengthening rural governance, promoting the implementation of policies and simplification, improving performance and accountability. In reality the declaration is simply a continuation of the different components of the current second pillar resulting from the 2013 reform and doesn’t really offer anything new.

In his opening speech Phil Hogan welcomed the adaptation of the Cork 2.0 new declaration “to the new challenges of the 21st century”3. Improving the functioning of the chains (value chains), digitalisation and the fight and adaptation against climate change appear in the new version. The Commissioner also highlighted the “New Rural Paradigm” which aims to replace the “Equalisation, farm income, farm competitiveness” approach with a more comprehensive approach “Competitiveness of rural areas, enhancement of local assets, and the use of unused resources”4. One should note that the main reference document explaining this “new paradigm” dates from 2006, well before the agricultural, food, financial and economic crises we continue to suffer and which have returned agricultural to the heart of the strategies of most global powers.

Upon reading the two Cork declarations, one notes that the relationship between policy for rural development and policy for agriculture and cohesion is not mentioned. Although Cork 1996 seems to restrict the CAP to its one-dimensional rural development, Cork 2.0 is much more measured even though it disappoints as the only reference to the current crisis is transcribed by “farmers must be provided with effective risk management tools”. How indeed can the development of employment in rural areas be advanced as an objective without going back to the first pillar which concentrates most of the measures that protect the productive agricultural sector against violent market shocks?

For his part, Czeslaw Adam Siekierski, chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, spokesperson for the new Member States, nonetheless stressed the importance of continuing to focus resources to strengthen the agricultural sector in particular by “supporting farm incomes and limiting price volatility”5.

Though rural development must undoubtedly remain one of the cornerstones of European integration, this new conference didn’t really provide anything new and could even be seen as being behind and more balanced than Cork 1 sometimes considered as in breach of the position and treatment of the CAP’s agricultural dimension. But ultimately, we can only ask if this conference was held mainly because of the Commissioner’s nationality.


1 Vous pouvez lire la déclaration en suivant ce lien
http://www.cget.gouv.fr/sites/cget.gouv.fr/files/atoms/files/conference_ue_cork_2016_developpement_rural.pdf

2 http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/events/2016/rural-development/programme.pdf
3 http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/commissioner-speeches/pdf/hogan-2016-09-05-cork_en.pdf
4 Cette approche est expliquée dans ce document de synthèse de l’OCDE datant de 2006
http://www.uquebec.ca/observgo/fichiers/75871_GLR3.pdf

5 http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/events/2016/rural-development/siekierski-opening-speech_en.pdf

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