I draw your attention to a major policy statement, recently approved by the European Commission after consultation, which will be reflected in many of the main EU programmes in the period 2021 to 2027.
I refer to the European Green Deal, which is based strongly on the tackling of climate change, sustainable use of resources and protection of wildlife. The Green Deal approach will be applied to all main sectors of the European economy, including the rural economy which matters so much to us in PREPARE.
Alongside the main Green Deal statement, the Commission has published proposals relating to
• Sustainability in EU agriculture and rural areas, through the Common Agriculture policy (CAP)
• More sustainable food systems
• Opportunities for alternative, cleaner sources of energy
• Ways to ensure more sustainable, more environmentally-respectful production cycles in manufacturing and processing industries
• A cleaner construction sector
• Sustainable means of transport
• Measures to cut pollution rapidly and efficiently
Biodiversity Strategy. Published alongside these proposals is a separate EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which aims to “put Europe’s biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, for the benefit of people, climate and the planet”.
Climate Pact. Of particular interest to PREPARE partners is a proposal by the Commission to launch a Climate Pact, through which it will offer financial and other support to all relevant stakeholders within the EU who pledge themselves to contribute to the climate-related targets in the Green Deal. A public consultation on the Climate Pact has been running for the last two months. I only discovered it on its final day, 16 June! Reading it, I felt strongly that PREPARE might well be able to benefit by signing up to the Climate Pact. I did not have time to consult the President or Executive Board, so I took the risk of completing the consultation paper on behalf of PREPARE. In doing so, I drew attention to the role of national rural networks, of PREPARE and of National and European Rural Parliaments.
Effect outside EU? I realise that seven national partners of PREPARE are currently outside the EU, and may not be directly affected by the programmes mentioned above. But – as those of you who have worked with IPARD will know – the EU brings its own ways of working into its support systems for candidate and associated countries. So the Green Deal ideas will probably find their way into EU support systems, and government thinking, in your countries.
I believe this new central emphasis on climate will be reflected in the EU policies and programmes to which PREPARE may find itself responding, and from which potential funding for the activities of PREPARE and its partners may flow.
I will try to keep track of how these policies develop, including the Commission’s reaction to the public consultation on the Climate Pact; and I will report further in due course.