EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen engaged with agricultural stakeholders following a series of protests in Brussels, promising the introduction of new measures aimed at addressing their concerns. This engagement occurred shortly after the conclusion of the European Council meeting, with von der Leyen joined by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who arranged the meeting, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
De Croo highlighted the complex challenges faced by the agricultural sector, including the impacts of the Green Deal and regulatory pressures, while emphasizing farmers’ willingness to contribute to climate change mitigation despite facing financial hardships.
During the discussions, the agricultural community underscored the necessity of prioritizing farming in the EU’s agricultural and food policies, as reported by Euronews. They acknowledged the EU’s efforts in initiating strategic dialogues but called for more tangible solutions to their problems.
Von der Leyen expressed empathy towards the farmers’ concerns about administrative burdens and announced that a simplification package would be proposed at the upcoming EU agricultural ministers’ meeting on February 26 to address these issues.
Von der Leyen also highlighted the critical role of farmers in ensuring Europe’s food security and economic stability, noting a 13% increase in agricultural productivity and a 5% rise in agri-food exports. She acknowledged the challenges farmers face, including price volatility and the balance between competitiveness and environmental standards, assuring them of the EU’s support, which includes allocating almost a third of its budget to agriculture. Additionally, she emphasized the importance of protecting European farmers’ interests in trade negotiations to maintain fair import standards.