As part of the rights and responsibilities of the EU Member States, every country is obliged to hold the Presidency of the European Union which in turn rotates among the member states every 6 months in a pre-determined order. During the 6-month period, the Presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU's work.
The Czech Presidency will focus on five cross sectoral flagship areas during its mandate including, managing the refugee crisis and Ukraine’s post-war recovery, energy security, strengthening Europe’s defence capabilities and cyberspace security, strategic resilience of the European economy, and the resilience of democratic institutions.
The Presidency has identified a number of key agricultural topics to tackle during the next six months, with the top priorities being food security including addressing the impact of the Ukraine crisis, the role of the Common Agricultural Policy, strategic plans & strengthening the EU’s position as an exporter.
During the first Comm Agri meeting under the new presidency on Monday 11 July, Czech Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula addressed the attendees and took the opportunity to emphasise that food security would be a top priority during his country’s Presidency. “We are facing an energy crisis & war in Ukraine, which has to a great extent disrupted the global food system and also we’re facing an increase in prices of agricultural production inputs - specifically, fertilisers,” he continued to explain that “fertilisers are one of the necessary prerequisites for assuring a sufficient agricultural production & therefore assuring food security.”
Further priorities for the next six months include:
- Reducing the use of pesticides in the EU: Maintaining sustainable agricultural production & ensuring quality & safe food for consumers. Focusing on more efficient use of pesticides with respect to health & environment and achieving the EU-wide objective of reducing pesticide use via a fair distribution among all Member States.
- Preventing deforestation & promoting forestry: Preventing potential administration burden on producers & risk of product shortages with the introduction of deforestation free supply chains.
- Animal health: Improving animal welfare and control of diseases such as ASF & Avian Influenza.
- Geographical Indications (GIs) & food labelling: hosting a scientific conference on ‘Harmonised front-of-pack labelling & its impact on sustainable food systems’
- Ensuring food Security: Through temporary derogations to the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions rules (GAECS) which require year-round soil coverage and crop rotations.
More information on the Czech Republic’s Presidency plans and programme of events can be found on their dedicated website here or to find out more about their priorities for the next six months click here
The British Agriculture Bureau will continue to represent UK farming interests in these areas of priority for the Czech Presidency and work with colleagues in Copa & Cogeca on key issues.