Robert de GRAEFF, ELO

Twice a year, the ELO General Assembly takes place in the country that is about to take up the rotating Presidency. At the end of November, the ELO was warmly welcomed by its Romania members in the snowy capital of Bucharest

The ELO received a warm welcome from the President of LAPAR, Laurentiu BACIU, who discussed the importance of European agricultural and environmental policies for Romania, and shared his hopes for Romanian agriculture as well as the general economic conditions in the country. They were followed by a presentation of policy highlights and priorities from ELO Secretary General Thierry de L’ESCAILLE.

As expected, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy was high on the agenda for all ELO members, with the legal text under discussion, as well as the tight timing left to finalise the reforms during the term of the current European Parliament. During the General Assembly, the ELO once again underlined its commitment to a strong future for the CAP that took into account both the sensitivities of European agriculture and the environment, but worried that many national administrations may not be ready to take up the responsibilities of the strategic plans. While the ELO members did see strong opportunities in a more developed CAP that was more closely aligned to national priorities, they also expressed their concern that a renationalised policy could lead to a loss of common European interests.

ELO policy advisers also gave specific presentations on reducing forest fires in Europe, welcomed candidate members from the Ukraine and discussed the ELO’s engagement at the international convention on biodiversity. 

In the afternoon, Minister of Agriculture for Romania, Petre DAEA, joined the General Assembly to discuss the priorities of the upcoming Romanian Presidency for agriculture. He defended the budget for the CAP and called for a reversal of the proposed cuts, noting that the CAP is an important tool to improve the Romanian countryside. He noted his country’s opposition to mandatory capping, stating that this should be left up to the individual Member State to fit their national agricultural structures. He also called for increased convergence of payments between different EU countries.

ELO members also heard from the Romanian Ministry of Forests and Water as well as that for the Environment, who discussed their priorities for the Presidency such as tackling farm waste water, climate change and preserving biodiversity. The Ministries agreed that it was vital to gain the support of farmers and land managers to achieve the goals set out under Natura 2000, the Paris Climate Agreement and other treaties. After the presentations, ELO members further discussed action on large carnivores with the Romanian delegation, whose management is becoming difficult in the region.

Apart from the policy issues raised during the General Assembly, ELO members were invited for an evening of traditional Romanian food and drink, as well as music and dancing, which will be remembered by all.

The ELO members and staff would like to thank Laurentiu BACIU and the LAPAR team for their hospitality and excellent welcome. We would like to convey special thanks to Paula POPOIU, Cristina LIBERIS and Iuliana GRUMAZESCU from “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum for having shared their knowledge and time with our delegation.