The priorities of the new European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski are placed under the spotlight here by Open Access Government
Janusz Wojciechowski recently began his five-year term as the European Commissioner for Agriculture.1 He forms part of the team of Commissioner from 27 European Union (EU) countries, under the leadership of President, Ursula von der Leyen.2 In the President’s letter for Commissioner Wojciechowski, she explained that following the European elections in 2019, “we are witnessing major shifts all the way from global power structures to local politics. What we do now will determine what kind of world our children live in and will define Europe’s place in the world.”
Farther on in her letter to Commissioner Wojciechowski, the President underlines that “providing affordable food for citizens and a fair standard of living for farmers is one of Europe’s founding missions.” Setting the scene, we discover that approximately 21 million people work in 11 million farms throughout Europe and as such, they remain a vital part of rural communities and provide nutritious, safe and affordable food for the people of Europe.
The President also draws our attention to the fact that Europe’s agricultural sector is central to achieving the Commission’s climate-neutrality commitments and as such, it must be supported in order to remain competitive. Over the next five years, Commissioner Wojciechowski will need to make sure that the agricultural sector “continues to deliver on its enduring commitments while supporting it to adapt to changes in climate, demographics and technologies.” The President also calls for Commissioner Wojciechowski to specifically focus on more sustainable and healthier food production, which will be important aspects of the European Green Deal.
One really important priority for Commissioner Wojciechowski will be “to swiftly conclude negotiations on a modern and simplified Common Agricultural Policy for the post-2020 period,” President, Ursula von der Leyen underlines. “The final agreement must be ambitious in terms of food security and environmental and climate objectives. It should incentivise the uptake of digital technologies and ensure the sector can remain competitive, provide a fair income and support young farmers,” she said.
The President adds that once this objective has been achieved, Commissioner Wojciechowski should focus on the full implementation of the policy and also work closely with the Member States on their plans in this vein to ensure a balance between EU-wide objectives and national priorities is achieved. “You will pay particular attention to the benchmarks and requirements on environment- and climate-related objectives,” the President said.3
Janusz Wojciechowski believes that the CAP will drive change as part of the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy that forms part of the step-change ambition embodied by the European Green Deal.
“I am honoured to be offered the opportunity to take on this role at a crucial moment for the EU and for the future of European agriculture. The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will be of key importance for the future of our farmers and of our citizens. We need to respond to their demands. We need to provide a modern, effective and simplified policy; we need to become a carbon-neutral continent and to deal with climate change; we need a long-term vision for our rural areas.”4
The new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy
Commissioner Wojciechowski also needs to contribute towards the new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy for sustainable food, by seeing how the agri-food sector can improve the sustainability of food production, including by organic means.3 Commissioner Wojciechowski understands that “to achieve the new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy for a more sustainable food system, we need the support of all farmers, stakeholders and consumers.”4
Supporting Europe’s rural communities
Of course, many more opportunities and challenges will arise up to 2024, In Janusz Wojciechowski’s answers to the European Parliament questionnaire, he says why he is well suited to the position of European Commissioner for Agriculture. This is a good point to end the article on as we are left in no doubt about his passion for supporting Europe’s rural communities.
“As someone who has been personally and professionally connected to the realities of rural life from an early age, I feel a strong commitment to providing safe and affordable food for our citizens and a fair standard of living for our farmers. Coming from a rural part of Poland, I am a firm believer in the need to support our rural communities.”4