The FWA1 Congress meeting: René COLLIN has asked for an exception for agriculture within the TTIP
Press release featured on the René Collin website, Walloon Minister of Agriculture2
Guaranteeing a decent income for our farmers and ultimately securing the future of our food sovereignty and security. In France, in Europe and worldwide. This is one of the objectives towards which some leading figures, aware of the strategic importance of these issues, are working. In a press release published on the René Collin, Walloon Minister of Agriculture website, reproduced below3, and in a time of not only European but global agricultural crisis, the minister called for the adoption of structural solutions, notably through the establishment of regulatory mechanisms.
The urgency of such an implementation is mainly dictated because of ongoing negotiations on the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP). An agreement that could well undermine European agriculture. Within this context, we can only support René Collin in his call for recognizing the need for monitoring the liberalization of agricultural trade, and advocating the agricultural exception within the context of the ongoing negotiations between the European Union and the United States concerning the TTIP.
In view of this, Momagri has addressed a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, to ask him how it is still possible to affirm that the TTIP will safeguard the interests of European agriculture following an analysis published by the US Department of Agriculture that portrayed American farmers as winners within this agreement 4.
momagri Editorial Board
The Annual Congress of the Walloon Federation of Agriculture (FWA) was held 16th February 2016 at Gembloux.
In this time of crisis which is severely affecting the agricultural world, René COLLIN insisted in his speech on the necessity of guaranteeing a decent income for our farmers.
The first priority remains fighting for remunerative production prices. Within the current context of the overproduction of milk and pork, the Minister once again called for the establishment, at the European level, of a new mechanism for the regulation of supply, in replacement of quotas. For this, it is necessary to convince Member States of the urgency in adopting structural solutions. In this regard, the meeting on 14th March for the Agriculture Council will be crucial.
The Minister then advocated for an exception for agriculture in the context of the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the US on the TTIP. The reports and studies show that the elimination of customs duties and/or non-tariff barriers would be in favour of US agriculture in almost every conjecture. Given the fundamentally different approach in terms of animal health, food safety, social and environmental standards on each side of the Atlantic, not to mention our approach to quality – linked to land and origin (PDO, PGI, organic, ...), it is clear that we must advocate an exception for agriculture in these negotiations.
The specificity and multifunctionality of our agriculture means recognizing it as an exception. This does not mean our agriculture should deny economic reality, or abandon the development of trade. But it would lead to the recognition of the need to supervise the liberalization of agricultural trade, in order to preserve sufficient flexibility for States to achieve their social and environmental objectives. The agricultural exception would enable this food sovereignty which would involve the regulation of trade and proactive public policies.
René COLLIN also reminded us that if Europe wants multilateral economic agreements with other continents, it must also immediately impose requirements to reduce, within Europe itself, the distortions of competition and also impose obligations for the regulation of its internal market for key sectors such as milk.
1 Walloon Federation of Agriculture
2 Minister of Nature, Rural Affairs, Tourism, Sport and Athletic Facilities, delegate for the Greater Region
4 The Momagri think-tank asked Jean-Claude Juncker to comment on the USDA report on the TTIP which gives the winning hand to US Agriculture, Momagri press release 17th December 2015