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« Food and Sanitary Safety : a challenge for the enlarged Union »

26 April 2005 – Brussels


PHARE Programme

A few days ago a very special delegation visited the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The
delegation was made up of representatives from the European Association of Chefs – EUROTOK. They came to
the meeting dressed in their professional white smocks and traditional chef hats. But it was not their presence
that was important, rather what they talked about. They discussed the importance of proper nutrition for humans;
how important it is for our life to eat safe and healthy food. Their action to promote healthy and safe food was
very convincing.

However the reality is different.


In a world where exchanges of raw materials and industrial products their quality is more and more questioned.
The EU has built an economic, social and, in some ways, a political area where the standards of food and
sanitary quality are amongst the higher. Nevertheless, questions arise about the need to produce enough to feed
the whole population, not only in Europe but also beyond while preserving the quality of the productions. The
agriculture is more than any sector under scrutiny: the use of chemicals, of new biotechnologies, of veterinary
medicines for animals shall not undermine the quality, the quality of food itself but also the quality of our
environment.
We are here to question the orientations of our agriculture and to discuss with the Commission, with professionals
and landowners and with scientists about what we want, what is possible and the future that we prepare today.
The legal framework must be safe enough so that we can carry on enjoying the diversity, the abundance of
production that we know today, and we shall as well tend to improve the quality of this production for the
European citizens’ safety and for the environement.

From the point of view of European agriculture, worrying about healthy food is very important and it brings
benefits even if it is a burden. European farmers will be better off if we go in the direction of a more
environmental agriculture driven by eco-conditionality. This direction is defined in the Reform of the Common
Agriculture Policy and it is supported by the European Commission.

After enlargement, the organic potential of the European Union had increased. Agricultural production in the new
Member States may be generally weaker economically, but, paradoxically, as a result of smaller farms, as in
Poland for instance; the farms are closer to the traditional model of production.

With the Enlargement, countries with different production structures entered the EU, often based on small, family
units. If we want these structures to be sustainable we must allow them to be able to make the difference and it is
by implementing the “Acquis Communautaire” that these producers will be able to be fully part of the European
market and to benefit from it. In Poland we attach great importance to the development of the organic agriculture,
because it is an opportunity for family farms that have produced safe and healthy food for a long time. They can
easily adopt the Union regulations in this field.
We should increase our efforts for the cause of healthy food. The EU faces new challenges by the introduction of
new technologies and we must be sure that these technologies are safe for us and the future generations. We
should support the high standards of animal protection for humanitarian reasons, and due to the fact that animals
which are ill-treated when raised and badly transported are going through enormous stress, which afterwards
resides in the food. I find taking promotional actions necessary to convince people to look for healthy food in their
shops.
Food safety also has an effect on the Union’s customs policy. Unfortunately, we define high standards for
ourselves, which is costly and can result in competitive imports from outside the Union, often from the countries
that do not observe any standards. Thus we have to pay special attention to imported food and require that the
sellers in the EU market observe adequately high food safety standards. Otherwise the limitation of our concern
will not bring the positive effects we seek.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very glad to be at this conference and I am especially pleased by the fact that it is organised by the ELO; an
organisation of great prestige and significance across Europe. I congratulate you on the conception and perfect
organisation. The conclusions you reach at today’s meeting will be carefully examined by the Committee on
Agriculture.
Thank you very much!

Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI
MEP – Vice Chairman of the Agriculture
and Rural Development Committee