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Press Office

Athens, 16 June 2021

Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Rural Development, Agriculture and Territorial Cohesion

The inter-parliamentary conference organised in Lisbon in the framework of the parliamentary dimension of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU, focused on Rural Development, Agriculture and Territorial Cohesion. The Hellenic Parliament was represented by the Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Production and Trade Vassileios Giogiakas and members Ioannis Andrianos and Stavros Arachovitis. They participated remotely. 

The discussion focused on issues such as the need for rural development, the reduction of large disparities between rural and urban areas and the use of funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Recovery Fund, so that rural areas can enjoy access to services, digital and physical connectivity and a sustainable, green growth that will attract young people and give life to the regions. 

In his intervention Mr. Andrianos referred to the difficult challenges facing the EU, such as income inequality, people moving away from agricultural activities, population aging, social and economic exclusion, natural geographical constraints, the financial crisis and the pandemic, but also the effects of climate change. These challenges, he stressed, require a comprehensive strategic approach, a new bottom-up development model that is constantly enriched and updated, as well as active coordination and support by the EU and exchange of know how between member states. He also referred to the special emphasis given in our country to job creation, to implementing the necessary infrastructures as well as to enhancing the use of information and communication technologies in rural areas. 

Mr. Arachovitis emphasised the need to support the rural population, which is the victim of widening inequalities and climate change and not the culprit and argued that if the EU wants adequate production and food, policies are needed that will revolve not around competitiveness and price reduction, but product quality and safety and sustainability. He referred to the intense competition from third countries that do not necessarily comply with European standards, but also to the need to strengthen consumer income, so that consumers may in turn support European agricultural products. 

In his speech during the second part of the conference focusing on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Mr. Giogiakas referred to Greece’s position vis-à-vis the European Parliament proposal on social conditionality, emphasising that significant differences in the relevant national legislation of member states could lead to reductions or suspension of payments due to the different levels of social and labour rights and, therefore, lead to distortions of competition, while the additional conditions will significantly increase the administrative burden, especially the control and sanctions mechanisms. He further conveyed his country’s concern regarding the introduction of a minimum mandatory percentage of direct payments for environmentally friendly agricultural schemes and the degree of response by farmers to this new intervention that has yet to be tested. This measure, he stressed, increases the risk of losing direct funds, especially during the first years of its implementation, which will be detrimental to member states such as Greece, that receives fairly high direct payments.


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