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Agriculture after COVID-19: agroecology responds to our environmental and food security challenges

​In this interview, Guillaume Cros (FR/Greens), rapporteur for a draft opinion on agroecology scheduled for adoption on 3 February 2021 at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, answers four questions on this environmental and social approach, which aims for agriculture in nature rather than in spite of nature. In the context of the forthcoming Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Vice-President of the Regional Council of the Occitanie-Pyrenees-Mediterranean region advocates, among other things, quantified European environmental objectives that are binding on the Member States and dedication of a minimum of 30% of the national payments envelope to eco-schemes.The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of our globalised agriculture and food system and has shown the importance of food security. However, in autumn a study by the US Department of Agriculture suggested that implementing the Farm to Fork Strategy would lead to a sharp decrease in agricultural production in the EU. Will agroecology cause us to go hungry?While food security is an argument often used against agroecology, recent work by the IDDRI (Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations) shows that it is possible to feed the entire population of Europe by 2050 through a gradual agroecological transformation integrating livestock farming, crops and forestry with a zero carbon emission target. At the global level, the UN report published in March 2011 also showed that in just 10 years small-scale farmers could double food production in vulnerable regions using green production methods. As the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the weaknesses of our globalised agriculture and food system, agroecology, which goes hand in hand with the development of "place-based food systems", must enable Europe to secure its food supplies in the short term as well as in the long term by preserving our production factors such as soils, water resources and biodiversity.The proposals of the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council for the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are strongly criticised for not being consistent with the objectives of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. What are your proposals for the future of the CAP, which is currently under discussion, to reconcile the economic profitability of farms with the EU's climate and environmental objectives?With its climate objectives, the Green Deal, and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, the European Union has set environmental and climate objectives that require a systemic transformation of agricultural modes of production and food systems. Agroecology meets these objectives and ensures better profitability of agricultural holdings (as highlighted in the French Government's analytical note on the economic and environmental performance of agroecology, August 2020).To this end, the future CAP, which is under negotiation, must support this necessary transition from agriculture to agroecology. To this end, I recommend in particular that quantified common European environmental objectives that are binding on the Member States be included in the Regulation on National Strategic Plans, that a minimum of 30% of the national payments envelope be devoted to eco-schemes and that support for investments in farms be subject to an environmental audit. In addition to these regulatory obligations, methodological support should be given to regional stakeholders to promote the adoption of the agroecological project in the mobilisation of the various voluntary measures of the CAP.The European Committee of the Regions considers it essential to preserve agriculture in all regions in order keep rural areas alive and promote territorial cohesion. How can agroecology help us achieve this?Agroecology goes hand in hand with a more local diet, which therefore helps each territory. I am also proposing a reduction in value added tax (VAT) on organic, local and seasonal products, a "local" meal voucher for these same products, and having a significant percentage of organic, local and seasonal products in mass catering. These measures will encourage the development of agroecological farms and small-scale processing workshops in all territories, thus benefiting rural employment. Moreover, agroecology, which requires less capital (mechanisation, inputs, land, etc.), would halt the disappearance of small-scale farming in countries where it is still significant. This would enable all EU countries to give momentum to agriculture and rural life with a positive social and environmental impact.On several occasions in your opinion, you state that agroecology goes hand in hand with small and medium-sized farms. Why would large farms not be able to develop agroecology?Agroecology does not just have a technical agronomic dimension but also a social and territorial dimension. While large farms, which have grown considerably thanks to uncapped CAP support, are a biodiversity desert, they are also a social desert, where employment and public services have disappeared, as we can see in "large-scale farming" regions. Agroecology goes hand in hand with a network of small and medium-sized farms, with diversified crops and medium-sized plots. The economies of scale, linked to the replacement of labour through use of petrol and chemicals, as well as to CAP support which favours large-scale operations, are no longer relevant in the time of the European Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.Background:Guillaume Cros is also the rapporteur for two European Committee of the Regions opinions on the Common Agricultural Policy:Reform of the CAP, opinion adopted in December 2018.The CAP after 2020, opinion adopted in July 2017.Press contact: [email protected]'s block ads! (Why?)

A new consultation warns: many EU governments are excluding regions and cities from the preparation of post-COVID recovery plans

​The CoR-CEMR work points out that only a few countries took on local-regional authorities' input, thereby threatening the successful implementation of the Recovery Plan for Europe.The results of the joint consultation were presented during the meeting of the Commission for Economic Policy (ECON) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). Members of the ECON also adopted by unanimity the draft opinion on the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, undertaken by Isolde Ries (DE/PES), First Vice-President of the Saarland Regional Parliament.In order to understand the extent to which local communities are involved in the preparation of the national Recovery and Resilience plans, the CoR and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) carried out a consultation of associations of local and regional authorities. The submission of the national plans to the European Commission is mandatory if Member States want to benefit from the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the EUR 672.5 billion instrument that is the cornerstone of the recovery instrument Next Generation EU, known also as Recovery Plan for Europe."The CoR and ECON pride itself on evidence-based research and these results show that unfortunately 'only a minority of Member States consult their local and regional authorities in the preparation of the national Recovery and Resilience Plans and that an even smaller number actually takes on their input'. The principal barrier identified by respondents is 'a simple lack of willingness on behalf of the national government, which did not seek to involve subnational government representatives'. Going forward, what is important is that this reality is shared widely with the institutions which can further encourage the involvement of local and regional authorities in these plans before their final version is submitted", underlined Michael Murphy (IE/EPP), chair of the ECON commission and member of Tipperary County Council.Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES), Mayor of Coulaines and CoR's rapporteur-general on the RRF, highlighted that "the RRF's regulation contains declarations of intent for involving cities and regions in the national recovery plans. Involving them at the planning stage would guarantee an efficient use of resources on the ground to avoid deadweight effects and redundancies, in particular for the European structural funds. The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing. The ball is still in the Member States' court: they can and must do better in terms of transparency and coordination".Dario Nardella, president of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence, who joined the round table discussion, stated: “If we act quickly we can still ensure the recovery funds find their mark to put people's lives back on track and deliver the twin digital and green priorities locally. Now that cities have been recognised as important partners in the Recovery Plan's regulation, we need national governments and local ones to work together to deliver urgent resources to the people that have been hardest hit in our cities".Dragos Pîslaru (RO/Renew Europe), member of the European Parliament and co-rapporteur on the RRF, said: "When I first started working on the Recovery and Resilience Facility, I realised that answers will be found only through dialogue with citizens. That is why I launched 13 consultations in EU Member States. An ideal national Recovery and Resilience Plan should coherently reflect all good ideas. I plead for the Member States to do the same exercise. The European Parliament made sure that the Member States will run consultations with relevant stakeholders of the civil society, as well as local and regional authorities, when drafting and implementing the recovery and resilience plans".Lucia Puttrich, Minister for European and Federal Affairs of the German Land of Hessen, declared "The RRF is the largest component of the Recovery Plan. Given the amount of aid, implementation is particularly important. The focus must now be on ensuring that the money reaches the region and generates important impulses. This means investing in competitiveness, in the Green Deal, in strengthening the health system and in digitalisation. These goals can only be implemented if the regions have a say in the design and implementation of the programmes. Because having a say means co-designing very close to the needs on the ground. This is the basic idea of subsidiarity and we explicitly promote it".The CoR engaged in an extensive monitoring process of the implementation of the RRF. This activity will culminate in a Recovery and Resilience Forum, whose first edition is planned in October 2021 during the European Week of Regions and Cities.During the meeting, members of the ECON commission also adopted by unanimity the draft opinion on the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials. Rapporteur Isolde Ries (DE/PES), First Vice-President of the Saarland Regional Parliament, said: "Modern societies and economies cannot function in the long term without reliable, safe, competitive and environmentally friendly supply of raw materials. Critical raw materials are required in many key European industries, such as automotive, steel, aerospace, IT, health and renewable energy sectors. The dependence on critical raw materials should be reduced through a circular use of resources, sustainable products and innovations. Domestic raw material extraction and processing in the EU must be strengthened and procurement from third countries diversified". The draft opinion is scheduled to be voted during the CoR's Plenary session in March.   The ECON commission appointed Loïg Chesnais-Girard (FR/PES), president of Brittany's regional council and chair of the CoR-UK Contact Group, to serve as rapporteur-general on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. The European Commission has proposed a EUR 5 billion budget for this instrument intended to support business, regions and local communities worst affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The draft opinion will be voted during the Plenary session in March. Moreover, Ricardo Rio (PT/EPP), Mayor of Braga, was pre-appointed as rapporteur of the own initiative opinion Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The appointment is subject to the approval of the CoR's Bureau. ​​Background:​The CoR-CEMR joint consultation gathered the views and experiences of 25 organisations representative of a variety of subnational government levels across 19 EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. The targeted consultation was carried out from early November 2020 to beginning of January 2021.The results could be consulted here. Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the EUR 672.5 billion instrument (up to EUR 312.5 billion in grants and up to EUR 360 billion in loans) designed to support EU countries in carrying out reforms and investing in the EU's common priorities. The RRF is the biggest financial tool included in the EUR 750 billion recovery instrument Next Generation EU, known also as Recovery Plan for Europe. To benefit from the RRF's support, Member States should present national Recovery and Resilience Plans indicating the reforms and investments that would be financed.On 18 December 2020, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU found a political agreement on the facility. The Parliament is expected to vote on the text at its February plenary session, followed by formal adoption by the Council.In October, the CoR Plenary adopted the opinion European recovery plan: Recovery and Resilience Facility and Technical Support Instrument, drafted by Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES). Please find the press release here. The national Recovery and Resilience Plans must be submitted by 30 April 2021 to the European Commission. The governance of this new instrument is closely aligned with the European Semester process of economic policy coordination. The lack of structured and systematic involvement of local and regional authorities in economic governance in general and in the European Semester in particular has been a repeated criticism of the CoR for several years. The Committee's remarks and proposal for an economic governance review of the EU are collected into this opinion drafted by the Minister-President of Wallonia, Elio di Rupo (BE/PES). The opinion was adopted in December by the Plenary.  Please find the press release here. Contacts:Matteo MigliettaTel. +32 (0)470 895 [email protected]​Let's block ads! (Why?)

Agriculture after COVID-19: agroecology responds to our environmental and food security challenges

[unable to retrieve full-text content]​In this interview, Guillaume Cros (FR/Greens), rapporteur for a draft opinion on agroecology scheduled for adoption on 3 February 2021 at the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, answers four questions on this environmental and social approach, which aims for agriculture in nature rather than in spite of nature. In the context of the forthcoming Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Vice-President of the Regional Council of the Occitanie-Pyrenees-Mediterranean region advocates, among other things, quantified European environmental objectives that are binding on the Member States and dedication of a minimum of 30% of the national payments envelope to eco-schemes.

EIB Group and Committee of the Regions reinforce their long-standing cooperation

​ The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and EIB Group have renewed and reinforced their long-standing cooperation today with the adoption of a new joint Action Plan for cooperation in 2021 . Through its financing, blending activities and advisory services, the EIB Group – comprised of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) - works with many of Europe's regions and local authorities. It helps deliver growth, jobs, cohesion and a just transition while supporting climate action and environmental sustainability as the EU’s climate bank. The CoR and the EIB Group have agreed annual joint Action Plans since 2015, and during the CoR plenary session of October 2020, EIB President Hoyer and CoR president Tzitzikostas reaffirmed the two institutions' commitment to this joint work . The fundamental objectives and ambitions of the CoR and those of the EIB Group go hand in hand: from enabling a fair and sustainable economic transition which leaves no region behind, through implementing the European Green Deal, to strengthening cohesion and resilience across all EU territories, or catalysing the post-COVID-19 recovery. In each of those areas and more, the CoR and the EIB both stand to gain from working closer together at the service of all EU citizens. The renewed Action Plan consists of a broad range of joint activities, for example a brochure on financial assistance available to local and regional authorities in EU accession and neighbourhood countries, or a workshop to highlight the opportunities of financing and advisory services for cities and regions under InvestEU. The plan foresees many such common events and joint projects as well cooperation between EIB Group specialists and CoR rapporteurs on relevant files. The joint actions cover many policy areas, from public investment and cohesion, to the Green Deal and neighbourhood policy. The shared objective of planning common activities is to foster awareness, find synergies, improve policy proposals and implementation, and ultimately help deliver high-quality EU-supported projects that benefit citizens and businesses alike. Thanks to this cooperation, the CoR will support Europe's local and regional authorities by helping to mobilise the EIB Group's expertise in addressing their needs. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Κάποιοι είδαν τον Κυριάκο Μητσοτάκη με ανοιχτό πουκάμισο και αναφώνησαν: Σέξι!

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Συζήτηση έχει προκαλέσει στα social media η εικόνα του Έλληνα πρωθυπουργού με ανοιχτό πουκάμισο τη στιγμή που εμβολιάζεται για τον κορονοϊό. Μάλιστα, η Daily Mail αναφέρεται στις εντυπώσεις που προκάλεσε η φωτογραφία του Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη, σημειώνοντας πως έγινε απρόσμενα sex symbol όταν αποκάλυψε το γυμνό του στήθος. O κ. Μητσοτάκης έκανε τη δεύτερη δόση του […]

COVID-19 Response Services

COVID-19 Response Services Health and safety companies have developed unique solutions to assist organizations in their desire to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19. By Shannon HunterJan 21, 2021 Health and safety companies have developed unique solutions to assist organizations in their desire to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19. As the novel coronavirus continues to impact business and government operations across the world, both the public and private sectors are seeking solutions to mitigate the risk of exposure to this pathogen to help safeguard the health of their employees and visitors as well as minimize potential impacts on their operations. All organizations are being faced with the challenge of how to protect employees and visitors from disease transmission while striving to welcome people back into a safe environment. As EHS professionals, we have a unique ability to help others to assess this unique situation from health, human behavior and engineering perspectives so that facilities can re-open or remain open with confidence. To meet the challenge posed by COVID-19, health and safety companies have developed unique solutions to assist organizations in their desire to overcome the challenges presented. Jobsite Safety Accountability Supervisor (JSAS) A team of experts has been providing COVID-19 safety services in the Bay Area of Northern California to help large construction projects move forward and provide work environments that minimize the risk of virus transmission among workers in the construction trades. The City of Berkeley and multiple other counties have implemented specific protocols for large sites that require a written plan to address risks of COVID-19 exposure to employees and steps taken to minimize these risks. As a third-party jobsite, JSAS personnel audits these plans for compliance with local health orders and verifies the proper execution of mitigation measures on site through frequent site visits. These visits provide reassurance to contractors and employers that they are implementing proper controls to limit the spread of the virus while on site. Facility OSHA and Health Order Compliance Review Let's block ads! (Why?)

Πώς αντέδρασε το Twitter με τη δημοφιλή Ανθή Σαλαγκούδη: «Ζούμε τον πρώτο διορισμό σε ριάλιτι»

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Με το στόμα ανοιχτό έμεινε η Ανθή Σαλαγκούδη όταν άκουσε τον Γιώργο Λιανό να της ανακοινώνει ότι το τηλεοπτικό κοινό την ψήφισε ως δημοφιλέστερη παίκτρια του Survivor. «Ευχαριστώ πολύ τον κόσμο. Δεν έχω κάποια στρατηγική, είμαι ο εαυτός μου» είπε η παίκτρια, με την αντίπαλη ομάδα να χαίρεται και να χειροκροτά για την επιλογή του […]

Cities, villages and regions strengthen cooperation with the European Commission to bridge the digital divide in Europe

The 2021 Broadband Platform kick-off meeting underlined that digitalisation and digital connectivity must be a top priority for local communities in their recovery from the pandemic.The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission pursue their common effort to help digital transformation and high-speed broadband reach all European territories, including rural and sparsely populated areas. The members of the Broadband Platform, a policy dialogue initiative between the European Commission and the CoR, meet twice a year to address issues that hamper the connectivity of underserviced areas. The 2021 kick-off meeting, that took place in a fully virtual mode today, served as an occasion for the 13 members of the CoR and the European Commission to take stock of the big transformations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to define the work programme for this year.     ​Michael Murphy (IE/EPP), head of the CoR's Irish delegation, chair of the commission for Economic policy and of the Broadband Platform, opened the meeting by highlighting that "It is difficult to image a more timely context for such a meeting than the one we have these days. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic we have all seen an accelerated digitalisation in our daily lives. Digital technology has become imperative to ensure continuity in our working and private lives, be it through teleworking, home-schooling, e-commerce, e-health, e-government, digital democracy or digital entertainment. As a result, local and regional authorities are challenged to make connectivity and digital transformation work for citizens. We are concerned with closing the gaps in connectivity where they exist and with making use of opportunities that digital technology offers for rural areas".Ricardo Castanheira, Counsellor for Digital and Telecom of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Anthony Whelan, Digital Policy Adviser to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Directors from the European Commission joined participants to discuss the EU policy strategy and the funding available for connectivity policy and digital transformation. Investments in the digital transformation will be one of the main pillars of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the EUR 672.5 billion instrument designed to support EU countries in carrying out reforms and investing in the EU's common priorities, also known as the Recovery Fund.As outlined by the EU Annual regional and local Barometer published in October, the prominent role of digital technology in COVID-19 resilience and response has highlighted shortcomings in digital infrastructure and digital literacy, and has made the digital divide between cities and regions ever more pronounced.Background:In 2017, the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission jointly launched the Broadband Platform with the aim to help high-speed broadband reach all European regions, including rural and sparsely populated areas where there is not enough market-driven development. Since then, the Platform has been a key instrument in making the voice of local and regional authorities heard through the important added value of the CoR and its members, feeding into the European Commission's policymaking process.In October, the CoR adopted the opinion A Strategy for Europe's Digital future and A Strategy for Data, drafted by Mark Weinmeister (DE/EPP) Secretary of State for European Affairs of the Land of Hesse, which recognizes the central role of digital transformation in the EU's response to COVID-19. Please find the press release here.The European Committee of the Regions is currently working with the European Commission and ESPON on a measuring framework for digital transformation of cities as part of the Join Boost Sustain initiative. Interested cities can find more information here.Contacts: Matteo Miglietta Tel. +32 470 895 [email protected]'s block ads! (Why?)