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Time for a change in European Land Governance?

11 October 2016

How to facilitate a fair access to land for farmers, including new entrants and landless rural workers in Europe? This is the question that the EP is asking itself after years in which land concentration and land grabbing have been dramatically increasing across Europe. In its session this Wednesday, 12 October, the AGRI Committee of the European Parliament will exchange views around the drafting of an own initiative-report entitled “State of play of farmland concentration in the EU – how to facilitate the access to land for farmers?”

For the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), this own initiative-report represents a sign that the European political community is finally ready to address an issue often thought limited only to the Global South.

“Despite its clear competences on agricultural policy, land use and food security, the European Union has spent many years treating agricultural land as a commodity like any other. This has lead to adverse situations around land concentration, land grabbing and access to agricultural land across Europe. We are pleased to see that the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee are finally starting to take note of these issues. They must recognize that land concentration and loss of farm land have a devastating impact on the future prospects of small-holder farmers which are the key to diverse and healthy models of production in Europe. ” says Adam Payne from ECVC’s Coordination Committee.

In the past years the EC maintained that Land governance was an issue related to national sovereignty, basically leaving land investments unregulated. But now ironically the same EC is on the offensive against various Eastern European countries that are attempting to protect their internal land markets amidst increased land concentration. There is currently a clear need for a European framework that recognizes that land is not a commodity. If nothing is done to protect farmland from speculation and to guarantee fair land access for farmers, not only is our food security threatened but also our natural resources, health and cultural diversity.

For many years ECVC has argued for a European directive on farmland based on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land Tenure endorsed by the Committee of World Food Security. This directive is necessary in order to give clear guidelines to member states around land investments, protect farmland from change of use and facilitate fair access to land for new farmers1


The presentation of the own initiative report by its rapporteur Maria Noichl, MEP from Germany (S&D) will be followed by an exchange of views within the Committee.


The first draft will be concluded soon, and ECVC hopes that the voices of landless rural workers, small-scale and peasants farmers can be reflected in this work. ECVC urges EU institutions to move quickly and begin preparations for a European tool able to stop land concentration and degradation and allow fair access to land for peasants and new entrants.


Adam Payne – Land worker’s Alliance (UK), ECVC Coordinating Committee: 0044 781 732 0504 (EN)
Genevieve Savigny – Confederation Paysanne (France), ECVC Coordinating Committee: 0033 625 551 687 (FR-EN)
Federico Pacheco – Sindicato de Obreros del Campo (Andalusia, Spain), ECVC Coordinating Committee: 0034 690 651 046 (ES-FR)
Antonio Onorati – Associazione Rurale Italiana (Italy), ECVC: 0039 340 821 9456 (IT-ES-FR)
Attila Szocs – Eco Ruralis (Romania), ECVC: 0040 745 779 036 (RO-EN)
1 A peasant is a man or woman of the land, who has a direct and special relationship with the land and nature through the production of food and/or other agricultural products. Peasants work the land themselves, relying above all on family labor and other small scale forms of organising labor. Peasants are traditionally embedded in their local communities and they take care of local landscapes and of agro-ecological systems. The term peasant can apply to any person engaged in agriculture, cattle-raising, pastoralism, handicrafts related to agriculture, or a related occupation in rural areas. This includes indigenous people working on the land. ” source : Article I, Declaration of Rights of Peasants- Women and Men