The French and Austrian agriculture ministers signed a joint declaration to strengthen the production of vegetable proteins such as soybeans, pulses and oilseeds in the EU and increase “EU self-sufficiency”. EURACTIV UK reports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the “resilience” of European agriculture, which has been able to provide “sufficient, safe, affordable and high-quality food”. declaration bed.
But the potential of agriculture is not yet fully exploited as the EU still depends on imports from third countries for plant protein products, said French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie and his Austrian counterpart Elisabeth Köstinger in a press release issued Monday, December 20. following their signing of a joint declaration last Friday (17 December).
In their statement, the two ministers recall the “great potential” of plant protein production and the “high level” of plant production techniques and standards in the EU, particularly compared to those of third countries. Encouraging protein production in Europe would allow the EU to “cope” with environmental and climate challenges, they added.
Such a commitment would be in line with the EU’s Fit for 55 package, under which the European Commission aims to cut emissions by 55% by 2030. It would also align with the EU’s farm-to-farm strategy. the fork, which aims to make block foods healthier. and sustainable.
In the joint statement, France and Austria also ask the European Commission to develop an EU strategy based on the 2018 executive report on the development of plant proteins in the EU.
According to ministers, this would involve boosting domestic production to meet EU standards while shortening transport routes through food processing industries and local and regional supply chains.
The statement also calls for a greater emphasis on plant breeding to “help prepare protein crops for the future” – which the French government has also said will be part of the “third agricultural revolution” to build the France of 2030. .
Research and innovation
France and Austria also underlined the importance of promoting research and innovation, “in particular through transnational research programs” on plant proteins, in particular within the framework of Horizon Europe, the research program of the EU with a budget of 95.5 billion euros for 2021-2027.
The two signatories also declared that “such commitments will contribute significantly to the construction of European strategic autonomy in an open economy”.
With their joint declaration, France and Austria hope to encourage closer cooperation between EU countries to facilitate “better economic structuring” of the vegetable protein sector at European level.
The relocation of the production of vegetable proteins in Europe would be “essential”, according to the French Minister of Agriculture, who also underlined the “environmental benefits of these crops” and their role in food sovereignty.
Denormandie also spoke of the “nonsense of depending on imports of products responsible for deforestation” – a problem the country confirmed it had pledged to combat when it takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 January.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]