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EU committed to active involvement in regulation of high food prices

The current President of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Slovenian Minister Iztok Jarc, is currently participating in the High-Level Conference on World Food Security in the light of challenges posed by climate change and biofuel production, which is being held at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation headquarters (FAO) in Rome. “The EU has decided to engage constructively in efforts towards achieving a joint international comprehensive response to the issue of high food prices and, hence, food safety,” declared Mr Jarc at the meeting, commending the FAO’s efforts to come up with a joint international response based on short- and long-term measures.

Mr Jarc highlighted the EU’s concern about rising food prices. Prices had fallen in real terms over the past 20 years, which meant that the rapid dramatic increase in prices of agricultural raw materials had resulted in more than a hundred million people suffering famine and malnutrition. Such price trends can have harmful effects on consumers at global and regional level as well as on the sustainable development of many countries. Alongside the adverse effects, the high prices also provide an opportunity for farmers, and especially for the development of farming in developing countries.

The EU has already provided food and humanitarian aid and will also provide additional resources for other urgent financial aid such as social assistance measures for poor and vulnerable groups, school meals and food coupons. In 2008, the European Commission will earmark a total € 283 million for these purposes, excluding the funds allocated for development support by individual Member States. In the medium term, the EU will provide support to facilitate production in developing countries, including, among other projects, by financing agricultural raw materials and market risk management counselling. Additionally, the EU will endeavour to increase investment in agriculture, including rural infrastructure, irrigation, energy supplies, research in agriculture, and political and institutional development. All this should help develop agricultural sectors and increase food safety and regional inclusion. 

Mr Jarc also stressed the importance of the Doha Development Round negotiations under the aegis of the WTO. The EU is striving for the rapid conclusion of negotiations aimed at a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced agreement in all areas. In this context, the EU’s willingness to abolish export incentives by 2013 is significant, as are its endeavours to limit export restrictions and bans as much as possible through political dialogue with non-EU countries.

With the recent reforms of its common agricultural policy, the EU has reinforced its market orientation, reduced the number of measures which distort the functioning of markets and thus enabled farmers to respond better to price trends. Under the CAP ‘healthcheck’, the EU will also abolish aid for the production of energy crops and promote second-generation biofuel research and development.

Mr Jarc emphasised the importance of the United Nations’ efforts to respond efficiently to the lack of food safety in the world and of the reform of the UN institutions aimed at improving its functioning.


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Date: 06.06.2008