War in Europe. The Ukrainian people who, by resisting the Russian invader, are fighting for our European values of democracy and freedom. This “Kiev moment” has united Europeans behind the Ukrainians. The European response to the Russian aggression was strong, swift and united, and the sanctions against Vladimir Putin and the members of his power system, the oligarchs, were unprecedented in scope. I am one of those who have been warning for months about the risk of a new war on our continent and the need for Europe to overcome its naivety towards Vladimir Putin.
I would like to mention here a particular aspect of the consequences of this war, namely the risk of global destabilisation in terms of food.
The forecasts of the FAO, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, could not be clearer.
Russia and Ukraine together account for more than a third of global grain exports. If the conflict were to continue, the risk of a global food crisis would be very real.
In this context, it is urgent for us Europeans to return to the original mission of the Common Agricultural Policy: to secure Europe’s food supply. We must do everything to support European agricultural production and help European farmers in their mission. Any new European legislation that would make it even more difficult for them at this critical time would be particularly unwelcome.
That is why my colleagues and I are calling on the European Commission to refrain from bringing forward any new proposals that could jeopardise Europeans’ ability to feed themselves.
The Commission must come forward with a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure food security in the EU without delay. The objective must be complete food self-sufficiency for Europe. We must also help other parts of the world, such as North Africa, to be able to feed themselves.
Finally, we must be ready to use all the instruments available under the CAP to stabilise markets that are already affected and could be further affected by possible Russian import embargoes.
The Coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the very great dependence of whole sections of our economies on China. With the war in Ukraine, our energy dependence and our food vulnerability are now visible to all.
We are fortunate to have an agricultural sector in Europe that is able to meet the challenge and ensure our food supply. My political family, the EPP, is determined to help our farmers to do their job and will oppose any measure that would make their task even more difficult.
My column in l’Opinion. For more on food safety and agriculture, read here.