General Assembly Day 1
ECVC’s GA took off today in Rome. With delegates coming from 22 European countries, the yearly meeting was opened by Fabrizio Garbarino, president of the host organization ARI, Associazione Rurale Italiana, In the agenda today: a look back at the activities for 2016, a homage to our departed comrade Nicolas Duntze and preparatory discussions on this summer’s VII Conference of La Via Campesina .
The 3 day long Assembly is expected to select new members of the Coordinating Committee and touch on other important issues to the organization such as seeds, land, peasants’ rights, women, youth, the CAP, migrants rights in agriculture and agricultural workers. In store, also time to celebrate and share enthusiasm !
Turning the CAP around was the center of today’s debate at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, where a discussion organized by ECVC and Slow Food highlighted the destructive measures put in place by the current European agricultural policy but also the importance of peasant agriculture in our society. Exposing the case of Italy, invited speaker Antonio Onorati, board member of the Italian organization Ari, Associazione Rurale Italiana, argued that the CAP served mainly in promoting extreme land concentration. In the current model of the CAP in place in Italy, he underlined, “20% of beneficiaries receive 85,7% of all spending, while the remaining 80% get the miserable, remaining 14,3%.”
Attila Miklos Boruss, from Romania’s peasant organization Eco Ruralis, presented the situation of Eastern Europe with a special focus on Romania. In this region, the CAP has served as an incentive to big investors. Romania is a clear example: since its “entrance to the European Union, 1 million farmers have disappeared, currently giving the top 100 farms in the country control of around 1.5 million hectares. This fact has led to a situation where 90% of that country’s CAP subsidies go to 1% of farms.
Peasant markets used to be a common sight everywhere in Romania, now they’re increasingly being replaced by supermarkets. “Peasant markets need to stay. They are a public good. They have a public utility like hospitals and schools.”
As the debate wrapped up, Antonio Onarati insisted on the need to have a citizen’s discussion on the CAP, its social aspects had to be acknowledged. “We need to break away from the solely economic debate around the Common Agricultural Policy. The spillover effects of the CAP go beyond the agricultural sector, it’s not only important to producers. This is an issue that concerns the whole of society.”
Day 2: 24 March
On this day’s agenda, the Women and Youth Assemblies presented the conclusions from their internal discussions. Near the end of the day, our Italian member, ARI, presented a motion on the recognition of peasant agriculture. ARI shared with the plenary their campaign to obtain a law in favor of peasant agriculture. At this point, the Italian Parliament is in phase of consultations to define the final text. It’s about the constitution of a proper legislative tool for peasant agriculture., which would male an adequate distinction of it from the industrial and commercial models (with commercial we refer to big industrial farms). The text would allow municipalities and local governments to attribute land to farmers in their territories.
Day 3 : #25March demonstration
The peasant women and men of ECVC, demonstrated in the streets of Rome on Saturday March 25, on the 60th anniversary of the founding Treaty of the European Union. At 10am, in Piazza Vittorio, our delegates carried out a peasant action meant to represent the prominence of corporate influence in the institutions of the EU, but it was also a short play meant to illustrate the importance of unified peasant action across the continent to win our food systems and rights back. ECVC and its allies demand healthy and quality food, decent work, and a just and a sustainable agricultural policy in a Europe for the People and of Solidarity. Following this action we converged with other Italian and European social movements in the General Mobilization of “OUR EUROPE” that ended in the COLOSSEO.