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EU leaders unanimous in favour of mitigating effects of high food and oil prices

© Council of the EU

At their June Summit under the current Council President, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, EU Heads of State and Government today called for a united front in taking measures to relieve the effects of high food and oil prices at European and world level.

The President of the European Council, Janez Janša, underlined that these are major challenges with a significant impact on the life of all EU citizens. He pointed out three statistics illustrating the gravity of the situation, "16% of EU residents live below the poverty line, low-income families being the worst affected. An additional 100 million people have been pushed into poverty due to the increase in food prices, while oil prices have risen by 500% in the past six years."

The Prime Minister qualified the reasons for this as complex and diverse. "EU policies are not the chief reason for these problems but they can offer solutions to them," he stated. "In our discussion, we agreed that the European Union must show unity in taking action at home and globally. We are already actively engaged in resolving these problems."

"Our immediate task is to focus on mitigating the effects of the situation," observed Mr Janša, adding, "While national policies contain key instruments for addressing such adverse effects, today we also discussed instruments within the competence of the EU." In this context, the Heads of State welcomed the European Commission’s plan to increase funding for direct aid to the European citizens hit hardest.

Alongside short-term solutions, effective long-term structural adaptation will be needed. European Council President Janez Janša highlighted the following key measures:

  • systematic monitoring of market trends with a view to reducing systemic risks and preparing for potential shocks;
  • measures on efficient energy use and diversification of energy sources to help reduce fossil fuel dependency;
  • bolstering innovation and research into the development of new technologies supporting energy saving and diversification of energy sources;
  • setting up sustainability criteria for the production of biofuels and, in particular, promoting the development of second-generation biofuels produced from by-products which do not jeopardise food production;
  • establishing systematic dialogue between oil-producing countries, oil-consuming countries and oil companies.

Prime Minister Janša described synergies in all policy areas – agriculture, energy, adapting to climate change, science and EU external policy – as being of key importance.

However, the need to find a solution to the problem is not confined to Europe alone. "In the global arena, the European Union will address these problems within the United Nations and G8 Group," remarked Mr Janša, "The EU has re-affirmed its commitment to an open trade policy, a rapid response to urgent short-term humanitarian needs and targeted aid to revive agricultural production in developing countries."

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Date: 27.06.2008