To AREPO partners and to all those who share the goal of enhancing the quality of their agriculture
In the last years, AREPO activity developed in an evolving context. Negotiations for the new European Agricultural Policy 2014-2020 were marked by important institutional and political changes that have transformed the structure of the sector. A new leading role of the European Parliament has been introduced by the ordinary legislative procedure, which characterizes the decision-making process in the agricultural sector, since the Treaty of Lisbon. Furthermore, the debate on the CAP has evolved in parallel to the one on the future Multiannual Financial Framework. For the first time, the programming of resources for agricultural policy has been associated with that of the entire EU budget. The agreement that has been outlined assigns about 380 billion euro in agriculture and rural development and is structured in four regulations.
In such a scenario AREPO, which represent about 40% of European Geographical Indication (GI), grew significantly from the point of view of results, partners and legitimacy. Our 27 regions have developed a shared strategy to promote their position at the European level. A consistent and targeted action has strengthened AREPO voice in the process of decision making for the agriculture sector. An example of this strategic role is the position assumed in defense of the “quality” concept within the CAP and, particularly, within the “quality package“. We fought to defend and develop our priorities, especially a better protection ex-officio, the recognition of mountain products and the possibility, for some consortia, to manage production volumes. The result of our efforts is a quality regulation, closer to the needs of producers, that opens new scenarios for the territories of European regions after the introduction of optional quality terms: the mountain products, the island products and the products of my farm.
Over the last years, our association has proved increasingly as a reliable partner for the key players of the EU Institutions. In the European Parliament, we have strengthened our already excellent relationship with the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Paolo De Castro. We also strengthened our collaboration with the MEPs of the Committee more sensitive to the issue of quality. This is proved by the correspondence between AREPO positions and the amendments presented by MEPs in the complex process of CAP reform.
Even with the European Commission, we reinforced our relationship through direct relations with the Commissioner Ciolos and his Cabinet. Moreover we constantly participate in the Advisory Group on Quality and local agriculture, we take part in high-level conferences on promotion, local agriculture and milk and, finally, we support the creation of a transnational STG. Commissioner Cioloş himself acknowledged our commitment with a letter recognizing AREPO proactive role in the reform of the agricultural policy.
AREPO remains focused also on the promotion policy for agricultural products. From the response to the Commission’s Green Paper in 2011 to the current stages, the network has defended the importance of addressing the economic and financial support for the promotion of quality products. We worked to keep the promotion in the EAFRD Regulation 2014-2020 and to extend its scope to producer groups.
The strength of AREPO comes from our regions. During this period of intense activity, five new members officially joined the project of the association: Crete, Bavaria, Lombardia, Puglia and Malopolska. In recent years we intensified relationships and shared goals with other major European networks that, like as, support the quality products (IFOAM, AREFLH, NECSTouR, Origin, Qualivita, AREV).
We faced many tests and achieved significant results, but the years to come still reserve us many new challenges. In addition, the political structure of the European institutions will change in the coming months following the European Parliament elections and the appointment of new commissioners. What has been achieved so far in terms of acquired legitimacy and credibility is the starting point for the creation of new successful partnerships. We will stay vigilant on the latest developments concerning the quality policy (in particular the evolution of the optional quality terms), the promotion policy, the definition of the new CAP implementing rules and the regulations on the organic farming.
It is time for the territories to act within the framework that has been defined at the EU level. In this new season, we propose AREPO as a technical support and a platform for cooperation and dialogue for the regions who wish to join us. Our goals and our ability to respond can only get stronger with the contribution and active participation of all member regions and producers.
President of AREPO