Austria Presidency Agriculture Minister Josef Pröll sees a clear mandate for a common research strategy in agriculture

May 31, 2006

Vienna, 30 May 2006

"I tried to plan the informal ministerial meetings around the "Europe is listening" initiative. This is about involving citizens more, for we want to and we must listen more attentively in future and keep in contact with the public. There must be an ongoing dialogue", Austria's Agriculture Minister Josef Pröll, President of the EU Agriculture Council, said at the press conference ending the Informal Meeting of Agriculture Ministers. This had also been the motto for an open discussion with farmers that took place at the beginning of the meeting, which had been very well received. "We have tackled issues important to the future at this informal meeting", Pröll continued. Thus themes such as research and development, education, advisory services and information, key factors in the competitiveness of European agriculture, had been on the agenda for discussion in the working groups.

Pröll cautioned that the "magic" date 2013 was fast approaching and with it the end of the Financial Perspective, of CAP reform and also of export restitutions within the scope of the WTO decisions in Hong Kong. "The WTO negotiations, which will come to a head again next week, will clearly pose challenges we must overcome. Politicians can give support by providing appropriate conditions, but it is above all the farmers themselves who will have to act." Pröll said the ministers had consequently been in agreement at the meeting that investment in Europe's agriculture meant investing in research, development, education and advisory services. "There are deficits in these four core areas. We need to do more here together." He thanked the meeting participants for their constructive input to the debate.

"One result of our talks was the realisation that there is insufficient coordination and cooperation between Member States in research and development. We need a common European research vision in the agriculture sector", Pröll declared. The Standing Committee on Agriculture Research would therefore be given a clear mandate to begin drawing up a common research strategy in June. On education, the ministers had proposed the development of a common strategy, in order to facilitate access to agricultural training and to improve coordination of the curricula in agricultural training establishments. Action should also be taken to develop and facilitate cross-border exchanges between young farmers. With regard to consultancy, the aim was to develop a platform for European advisory services, Pröll said. Individual initiatives existed which should be networked to a greater extent on a European level. In order to boost innovation for rural development, a monitoring system and a European benchmarking scheme for innovative projects should be set up. "We plan to coordinate our work more closely in future in the field of research, consultancy and enhancing innovation, and we have taken some important steps towards this goal", Pröll concluded.

Austrian Presidency
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