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Food security, reducing pesticide use in the EU and prevention of deforestation will be priorities in the agricultural resort during the Czech Presidency

Jun 24, 2022

Food security in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reducing pesticide use across the European Union, preventing deforestation and supporting forestry will be the main priorities in the agricultural sector during the Czech EU Presidency. Other topics to be addressed over the next six months include fishing rights, aquaculture, food labelling and animal health. The Czech Presidency will be tasked with seeking consensus among Member States.

"The main objectives of our Presidency of the European Union in the agricultural sector in general are climate protection, ensuring biodiversity, the development of sustainable farming and sustainable food production. All our main priorities also follow from these objectives," said Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula (KDU-ČSL).

Because of the war in Ukraine, the most important task is to ensure sufficient food not only for Europe but also for the whole world. The war is having a huge impact on the agricultural and food sectors, so the Czech Presidency, together with the European Commission (EC), will look for ways to help these sectors. "In order to secure food for the whole world, we need to maintain the production of quality and safe food. We will therefore regularly monitor the situation on the commodity markets and at each meeting of the Council of Ministers, once a month, we will address this issue and take the necessary measures," said Minister Nekula.

Another important priority will be to reduce the use of pesticides, which must be a task for the whole of Europe. According to the Farm to Fork strategy, the whole Union should reduce pesticide consumption by 50% by 2030. The Czech Republic will lead the debate on the sustainable use of plant protection products to meet this target by sharing it fairly among all Member States. It is essential for Europe to be able to ensure sufficient, high-quality and safe food for consumers in order to protect health and the environment.

The Czech Presidency will also focus on the prevention of deforestation. The European Commission is proposing to introduce a system under which companies would have to prove that deforestation and the degradation of forests, particularly rainforests, have not occurred in the production of their products. "The idea is to ensure that the production of certain commodities such as soya, coffee, cocoa, beef, timber or palm oil does not lead to unnecessary degradation of forests and woodlands. We need to protect nature sufficiently, while at the same time making sure that we do not jeopardise the supply of certain products or foodstuffs because of new bureaucratic hurdles," said Minister Zdeněk Nekula.

A related but quite different topic will be the promotion of sustainable forestry, which is particularly important now in times of drought. The Czech Presidency will create a space for discussion on the future of the Standing Forestry Committee. The Union does not have a common forestry policy, so it is important to take into account the diversity of forests across the European Union when managing forests.

Although we are a landlocked country, we will have an important role in setting the so-called fishing opportunities for next year in EU and third-country waters. This setting is also important in terms of food security. The Czech Presidency will also endorse principles for more sustainable marine and freshwater aquaculture. Other topics will be food labelling, protected geographical indications or animal health and welfare.

The first Council of EU Agriculture Ministers under the Czech Presidency, to be held in Brussels on 18 July, will be chaired by Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula. The Ministry of Agriculture will also organise 15 informal events at various levels in connection with the Presidency. These include an international scientific conference on food labelling and a seminar on the new EU forestry strategy.
For up-to-date information on the events and results of the Czech Presidency, see here: eu2022.cz.

Vojtěch Bílý

Spokesman of the Ministry of Agriculture