Latvia to focus on 'long-term agricultural production'

Latvia's ministry of agriculture will promote a sustainable approach to agriculture, fisheries and the forestry sector, writes Jānis Dūklavs.

By Janis Duklavs

18 Dec 2014

The European Union's common agricultural policy (CAP) is one of the EU's flagship policies and should be developed accordingly over time to remain sustainable. During Latvia's EU council presidency in the first six months of 2015, the ministry of agriculture of Latvia will turn our attention towards the viability of long-term agricultural production and the future-oriented management of natural resources. To improve the EU's competitiveness in agricultural production, the Latvian presidency will continue to promote the sustainable, innovative and environmentally-friendly development of agricultural, food and fishery sectors. We will also continue to support efforts to strengthen health and safety standards in the entire agriculture and food production chain. The presidency will strive to reinforce a harmonised approach to protective measures against plant pests, to simple but effective veterinary legislation and simplified organic farming legislation, while safeguarding the quality of organic production. Moreover, the Latvian presidency will also work on sustainable and responsible forest management, while continuing to promote the European model of forest management globally. We will also work to ensure progress on the multiannual management plans of fisheries.

"The guiding principles of our presidency are sustainability, competitiveness and growth"

The guiding principles of our presidency are sustainability, competitiveness and growth. These three fundamental principles will also be applied to working within agricultural, fisheries, food, forestry and animal health areas of our presidency programme. The enhancement of the competitiveness of the EU's agricultural production and food sector in the EU and in global markets will ensure the sustainability of agriculture, animal and plant health. We will attach particular importance to making animal and plant sector legislation simple but effective. This will help to improve competitiveness and ensure health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain.

The sustainable forest management model based on the experience of EU member states will ensure sustainability and green growth in the forestry sector. Promotion of the European forest management model at a global level emphasises the importance of sustainable and responsible forestry management. Multiannual fisheries management plans and fisheries control will also ensure sustainability and growth in fisheries. The responsible and sustainable management of resources used in an effective way will strengthen a regional aspect and individual approach.

Sustainability, competitiveness and growth will also be at the centre of the various activities organised by the Latvian presidency. In the spring, we will organise an international seminar, primarily focused on biosafety as a guarantee for animal health. In June, the Latvian presidency will hold the ninth European organic congress where policymakers and decision makers from the presidency, the European commission, and non-governmental organisations will discuss the EU's vision for organic farming after 2030.

That same month, the presidency will organise an informal meeting of EU forest directors to discuss the progress of the 'forest Europe' process and results of the 11th United Nations forum on forests. They will have an opportunity to visit the state forest service and learn about forestry in Latvia, which is an important component of our economy but also plays an important role in our culture.

"To improve the EU's competitiveness in agricultural production, the Latvian presidency will continue to promote the sustainable, innovative and environmentally-friendly development of agricultural, food and fishery sectors"

The informal meeting of fisheries directors general will address questions that are relevant to sectoral stakeholders, such as the reform of the fisheries policy, the landing obligation and regionalisation.

At the informal meeting of chief plant health officers that will be organised in May, we will turn to questions such as exports to Russia, the phytosanitary situation, invasive alien species and proposals for plant health regulation.

In February, there will be a discussion at director level on how organic farming and short supply chains can contribute to sustainable rural development. The meeting will address the development of organic agriculture within the CAP, including short supply chains and necessary updates in EU legislation. This event will be in association with the international federation of organic agriculture movements. At the informal agriculture and fisheries council to be held from 31 May to 2 June, we will focus on the relationship between competitiveness and sustainability of the European agriculture.

Of the 200 events organised by Latvian EU council presidency, 17 will be the responsibility of the ministry of agriculture of Latvia. During the presidency, Latvia will be the mediator and driving force of the negotiations among the EU member states. For the first time, we will represent the EU council in discussions on agriculture at the parliament, the commission and in global institutions.