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The European Coordination Via Campesina continues the promotion and defense of food sovereignty

25 February 2011

The European Coordination Via Campesina held its Annual General Meeting on February 15-17, 2011 in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium). Bringing together over 40 regional and national delegates, this Assembly was an opportunity for member organizations to develop common strategies for building a sustainable food and agricultural policy.

Members of the European Coordination Via Campesina reiterated their request for a new Common Agricultural Policy defined around the core concept of food sovereignty, as opposed to the current CAP that is exclusively tailored to achieve ” competitiveness ” in the international market. “Deregulation” puts the European farming world against farmers in countries where production costs are much lower and where wage differences are enormous. The added value of agricultural labor continues to be monopolized by the food industry and supermarkets against the interests of producers and consumers. The fact that the priority is given to export markets, which is, in most cases, only possible through export subsidies or direct aid, mainly benefits transnational agribusiness companies, and prevents farmers in the South from selling their produce on their own markets.

Strategic work axis of the European Coordination of Via Campesina

The Assembly underlined its commitment to promoting a common food and agricultural policy after 2013 – a policy designed in favour of employment, diversified food production, quality food and produce as well as a model of agricultural production based on agro-ecology and the relocation of food production.

The work carried out by farmers is fundamental if we want to preserve our rural heritage and culture in Europe – but also to address the global challenges of climate change and loss of biodiversity loss. It is also a mean to fight financial speculation and the concentration of power in the agro-industry and the big food retail chains (4 companies dominate the food distribution market in France) as well as opposing land grabbing.

The European Coordination Via Campesina also stressed the following points:

• Implement support measures for young people who want to start farming.

• Equal treatment for farmers and agricultural workers (legal, economic, social, cultural, professional, ..) should be supported by the CAP and other EU policies.

• The status and protection of agricultural workers, migrant or not, must be improved and implemented.

• We must reject the patenting of life and protect farmers’ rights to reproduce and exchange seeds.

• Transparency in the food chain is essential and we must denounce the abusive business practices.

• International bodies of the UN are the only legitimate space to develop world agricultural and food policies.

• “Free Trade” Agreements implemented by the EU with third countries have a negative impact on farmer’s agriculture in both North and South and must be stopped.

• The Nyéléni-Europe process will bring together all the different forces that fight for food sovereignty at different levels. A European Forum will be held in Austria in August 2011 (website: http://www.nyelenieurope.net).

At this Assembly, new members of the coordinating committee were elected. The committee now consists of:

Andrea Ferrante – Italy (newly elected); Gjermund Haga – Norway (newly elected); Genevieve Savigny – France; Isabel Villalba Seivane – Galicia (newly elected); Pierre André Tombez – Switzerland; Jeanne Verlinden – Belgium; Rafael Hernandez – Spain, as well as European representatives to the International Coordinating Committee of La Via Campesina: Josie Riffaud- France and Javier Sanchez- Spain.

The General Assembly also warmly thanked the two outgoing members, Lidia Senra of Galicia and Joop de Koeijer from the Netherlands for their work on the committee.The General Assembly welcomed two new member candidates: Ecoruralis from Romania and Esvy Ry from Finland.

The European Coordination will further develop its proposals for a new CAP, will participate in the debate around the definition of the new Common Agricultural Policy in 2013, the refom of the dairy policy, etc … and will continue to present the perspective of sustainable family farmers on the various EU policies, together with allied organizations or within the networks in which it participates.

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