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EU agricultural policy and climate change

19-05-2020

In December 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and across the globe – a recognition of the challenges that the EU faces in this area. The agricultural sector is not only affected by climate change but also contributes significantly to it, according to some assessments. Evidence from a range of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre points to the impacts that climate change ...

In December 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and across the globe – a recognition of the challenges that the EU faces in this area. The agricultural sector is not only affected by climate change but also contributes significantly to it, according to some assessments. Evidence from a range of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre points to the impacts that climate change will have on yields, length of growing season, water availability, biodiversity, and habitats. The pattern of climate change will have a differential impact in terms of the regions affected. A clear north–south divide emerges, with countries of southern Europe likely to face declining yields due to increased temperatures and reduced precipitation. In the legislative proposals for the common agricultural policy (CAP) for the post-2020 period, the European Commission has set a high level of ambition in both environmental and climate change objectives, taking into account the fact that agriculture is responsible for around 10 % of the EU's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The European Green Deal outlined in the Commission's political guidelines aims to make Europe the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. A range of mitigation and adaptation responses are available, designed to curb GHG emissions and reduce vulnerability to climate change. The EU can use the CAP as a tool to influence policy-making in the area of climate change. In fact, data on the operation and impact of the CAP on climate change and GHG emissions have been examined using a range of sources, including a study undertaken for the Commission. One of its conclusions is that there are a range of CAP measures that are only partially relevant to climate needs, as the CAP is constrained by the lack of compulsory implementation. Additionally, a series of inconsistencies and 'missed opportunities' were identified in the study. It remains to be seen how such findings will influence the content and design of the new CAP strategic plans, given that the Commission's future proposals for them include giving greater discretion to Member States.

Outermost regions of the EU

15-05-2020

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to ...

The European Union's outermost regions qualify for special treatment owing to structural difficulties, such as remoteness, difficult topography or economic dependence on a few products, that can severely hamper their development. Specific support mechanisms exist under cohesion, agricultural and fisheries policies, with the Commission outlining measures aimed at assisting outermost regions in communications published in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Nevertheless, with the outermost regions continuing to face numerous challenges in areas such as mobility, unemployment and climate change, discussions were launched on the formulation of a new strategy, which was published in October 2017. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, the 2017 communication offers a new approach to supporting the outermost regions' development by optimising their assets, exploiting new opportunities for growth and job creation, and focusing more on their specific circumstances and needs. To this end, the communication outlines a series of concrete and coordinated actions to be taken at European Union (EU) and national level, as well as by the outermost regions, and calls for stronger partnership between outermost regions, Member States and the EU. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a broad package of proposals for the 2021-2027 period, providing the legislative framework needed to guide this strategy beyond 2020. Taking account of the specific needs of the outermost regions in a total of 21 proposals, the Commission has ensured the continuation of many of the special measures supporting their development. However, these proposals have met with a mixed response on the part of the outermost regions, particularly when it comes to the proposed reductions in co-financing rates and financial resources. Published in March 2020, the European Commission report on the implementation of the 2017 communication considers that it has delivered concrete results and that the process of implementing the communication is going in the right direction. Yet with development continuing to lag behind in the outermost regions, it is clear that challenges persist. It remains to be seen whether the 2017 strategy and the special measures put forward for the post-2020 period will together be sufficient to close the inequalities gap with the rest of the EU, and achieve the ambitious new goals of the Green Deal. This is a revised and updated version of a briefing from January 2018.

Coronavirus crisis support for EU farmers

28-04-2020

EU farmers are among the few key workers who have not seen a dramatic change in their daily routines since the coronavirus crisis began. They are still farming to supply EU citizens with food. Some public health protection measures have however affected farming activities and sales badly. While the EU has taken a number of measures to mitigate this impact, the possibility of further measures is high on the agricultural policy agenda.

EU farmers are among the few key workers who have not seen a dramatic change in their daily routines since the coronavirus crisis began. They are still farming to supply EU citizens with food. Some public health protection measures have however affected farming activities and sales badly. While the EU has taken a number of measures to mitigate this impact, the possibility of further measures is high on the agricultural policy agenda.

What if we could fight antibiotic resistance with probiotics?

23-04-2020

Recent research suggests that the future combat against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) may involve probiotic-based approaches. Their use in our microbial ecosystems, including humans, animals and the healthcare environment, may provide a novel approach which deserves exploration.

Recent research suggests that the future combat against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) may involve probiotic-based approaches. Their use in our microbial ecosystems, including humans, animals and the healthcare environment, may provide a novel approach which deserves exploration.

Transitional provisions for the CAP post 2020

16-04-2020

On 31 October 2019, the European Commission adopted a legislative package aimed at ensuring the continuation of the current common agricultural policy (CAP) until the legislation on the post 2020 CAP is in force. The package includes a proposal for a CAP transitional regulation setting out a number of adjustments to current CAP regulations, concerning their applicability beyond 2020 with new financial allocations. This proposal introduces transitional provisions and amendments that are necessary ...

On 31 October 2019, the European Commission adopted a legislative package aimed at ensuring the continuation of the current common agricultural policy (CAP) until the legislation on the post 2020 CAP is in force. The package includes a proposal for a CAP transitional regulation setting out a number of adjustments to current CAP regulations, concerning their applicability beyond 2020 with new financial allocations. This proposal introduces transitional provisions and amendments that are necessary to ensure the continuity of the CAP through a one year transitional period ending on 31 December 2021 and to smooth the passage to the new policy framework envisaged by the post 2020 CAP proposals. It concerns all the basic acts which regulate how the CAP now works.

Protecting the EU agri-food supply chain in the face of COVID-19

02-04-2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EU countries' governments have taken a host of measures, including reintroducing border controls and setting limits to free movement of people within their territory, in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease. These measures have had a pronounced impact on the EU agri-food supply chain. The EU food system is a complex web of inter-related sectors that ensure both the sustenance of EU consumers and the achievement of food security, one of the EU Treaty's ...

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EU countries' governments have taken a host of measures, including reintroducing border controls and setting limits to free movement of people within their territory, in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease. These measures have had a pronounced impact on the EU agri-food supply chain. The EU food system is a complex web of inter-related sectors that ensure both the sustenance of EU consumers and the achievement of food security, one of the EU Treaty's objectives. This system relies on about 10 million farms, several hundred thousand food and beverage processing companies, thousands of businesses manufacturing agricultural inputs or handling packaging, transport, storage and distribution, as well as wholesalers, markets and other retailers. When the functioning of any one sector of the food chain is hindered, the whole chain can be disrupted. For instance, as highlighted by sectoral stakeholders and then addressed by EU-level measures, recent national restrictions have contributed to problems such as blocked transport routes, long queues at border checks for commodity transport, and shortages of seasonal farm workers who can no longer move freely from one Member State to another. Specific schemes have been set up at EU level as a lifeline to farms and companies from the agri-food sectors that have been the hardest hit and are in greatest need of support. The European Parliament voted the first emergency measures to combat COVID-19 at an extraordinary plenary meeting on 26 March. Members of the Parliament's Agricultural and Rural Development Committee have put forward proposals on further measures. There has also been an overhaul of EU farm policy rules as a first step to address the emergency at EU level. How these rules will evolve further depends on the concerted efforts of all parties concerned: stakeholders, the EU and national policy-makers. Unified action at EU level is also required to complete the legislative process for the adoption of the 2021-2027 long-term EU budget and future EU farm policy, discussion of which has slowed down due to the crisis.

Information package on ‘Innovation in Agriculture’ Public Hearing of 18 February 2020

18-02-2020

This information package is prepared by the Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies for the hearing of 18 February 2020 organised by the European Parliament’s Agricultural and Rural Development Committee (AGRI Committee). The main purpose of the paper is to facilitate the legislative work of MEPs related to the agri-food research & innovation issues.

This information package is prepared by the Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies for the hearing of 18 February 2020 organised by the European Parliament’s Agricultural and Rural Development Committee (AGRI Committee). The main purpose of the paper is to facilitate the legislative work of MEPs related to the agri-food research & innovation issues.

What if crop protection were environment-friendly?

11-02-2020

Pesticides are indispensable in modern agriculture, but the EU wants crop protection to be responsible and eco-friendly. What options are there to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides?

Pesticides are indispensable in modern agriculture, but the EU wants crop protection to be responsible and eco-friendly. What options are there to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides?

Desertification and agriculture

10-02-2020

Desertification is a land degradation process that occurs in drylands. It affects the land's capacity to supply ecosystem services, such as producing food or hosting biodiversity, to mention the most well known ones. Its drivers are related to both human activity and the climate, and depend on the specific context. More than 1 billion people in some 100 countries face some level of risk related to the effects of desertification. Climate change can further increase the risk of desertification for ...

Desertification is a land degradation process that occurs in drylands. It affects the land's capacity to supply ecosystem services, such as producing food or hosting biodiversity, to mention the most well known ones. Its drivers are related to both human activity and the climate, and depend on the specific context. More than 1 billion people in some 100 countries face some level of risk related to the effects of desertification. Climate change can further increase the risk of desertification for those regions of the world that may change into drylands for climatic reasons. Desertification is reversible, but that requires proper indicators to send out alerts about the potential risk of desertification while there is still time and scope for remedial action. However, issues related to the availability and comparability of data across various regions of the world pose big challenges when it comes to measuring and monitoring desertification processes. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the UN sustainable development goals provide a global framework for assessing desertification. The 2018 World Atlas of Desertification introduced the concept of 'convergence of evidence' to identify areas where multiple pressures cause land change processes relevant to land degradation, of which desertification is a striking example. Desertification involves many environmental and socio-economic aspects. It has many causes and triggers many consequences. A major cause is unsustainable agriculture, a major consequence is the threat to food production. To fully comprehend this two-way relationship requires to understand how agriculture affects land quality, what risks land degradation poses for agricultural production and to what extent a change in agricultural practices can reverse the trend. Cropland expansion and intensification of agriculture are among the drivers of land degradation processes that can lead to desertification. Yet, agriculture itself can provide solutions to land degradation. Almost half of the EU Member States have declared that part of their territory is affected by desertification, yet there is no EU-level strategy to tackle this problem. EU agricultural policy can have an impact on the elements and drivers of desertification, for example, by promoting sustainable agriculture in the awareness that protecting farmland productivity is of interest to the public and farmers alike.

EU trade and transport of live animals

07-02-2020

Every year, millions of live animals are transported within and outside European Union (EU) territory for trade purposes. EU legislation regulates the protection of animals during transport, but reports of breaches of the rules and accidents raise doubts on the transport of live animals and have rekindled the debate on the need to improve the current legislation.

Every year, millions of live animals are transported within and outside European Union (EU) territory for trade purposes. EU legislation regulates the protection of animals during transport, but reports of breaches of the rules and accidents raise doubts on the transport of live animals and have rekindled the debate on the need to improve the current legislation.

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