Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

EU policy as always in the wrong direction

The largest agricultural company in Europe – Agricost Holding – is located in Romania. The 56,132 hectares of farmland belong to Al Dahra, a company from the United Arab Emirates. In this way, the largest EU subsidies for agriculture flow into Arab coffers. This shows how EU regulations are blind and anti-social. Although Romania is one of the largest agricultural states in Europe and has one of the most fertile soils, the tasty, sun-ripened tomatoes from Wallachia or the spicy organic cheeses from Transylvania hardly make it to the export market in the West. The reason is not the weak marketing of the Romanian food producers, but the strength of the farmer lobbyists from Italy and Spain in the EU; they will not allow the prices of their specialties to go down because of the much cheaper competition from Eastern Europe. A natural behavior, but on the flags of the EU stands equality, free trade and the right to free competition. Meanwhile, Brussels is in effect promoting big business from the West and feeding the coffers of the Arabs.

The macrocosm of the EU is transferred to the microcosm in Eastern European countries. “Romania counts about four million farms, no other EU country has such a fragmented agriculture. The smallest part – about 12,000 companies – are former mammoth farms that still cultivate state-owned land of up to 500 hectares and have their customers at home and abroad, mainly for non-processed primary products such as grain, oilseeds and live cattle. Although these companies are economically well positioned, they receive most of the EU direct payments because they have the biggest lobby in domestic politics. But the vast rest of the farms struggle to survive in Romania.”

The EU is interested in this fragmentation of agriculture in Eastern Europe; it simply wants to destroy the small farms there. In the Western Balkans, for example, there are good conditions for the oh-so-fashionable organic farming in the small family farms. But Kosovar, Serbian, Macedonian small producers would represent a strong competition for the established, Western producers, insofar as their governments would adapt to EU standards and accept funds from Brussels.

The number of family farms continues to decline dramatically, not only in Romania, where most young people are leaving for the West and no longer want to farm, but also in Western Europe. Not only because of convenience and because of the easier life in the foreign, western big cities. In the EU, agribusiness has become a high-risk business where loans are almost impossible to service and where profitability depends precisely on the above-mentioned subsidies, or in other words: officials decide from my business.

The paradox has other facets as well: While the EU promotes the preservation of the old vegetable and fruit varieties, huge corporations from the other parts of the world get huge sums for the cultivation of the modern varieties, which taste of nothing and can be an interesting subject of study for a chemist in the laboratory. But buy organic instead! These mammoth farms also buy feed and fertilizers from the remotest regions of the world to “optimize” their production. Wouldn’t it be logical for the EU to base its subsidies not on the size of farms, but on their carbon footprint? You have to stick to your own logic, don’t you?

EU bureaucrats are like drifting drivers, all the time pressing on the gas pedal and applying the brake at the same time. While the countless EU projects for the preservation of the rare vegetable, grain and fruit varieties are running and there is always talk about the promotion of healthy organic food, an agreement is signed with Brazil (Mercosur) by virtue of which meat from GMO-fed cattle should be brought to Europe. In this two-speed Europe, even the Greens in Germany change their minds when something pleases the lobbyists and are probably not as strongly against the agreement as they used to be.

Ask yourself now: Why does it sound: “I am a farmer”, not proud? 

Municipality of El Ejido in Almeria, Spain. Huge greenhouses and farms that only function thanks to EU subsidies and cheap Moroccan labor. Is this what the sustainable future of Europe is supposed to look like? Source: Wikipedia, El Ejido.

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