HEARING - Land issues in Europe
This land is our land: GUE/NGL MEPs highlight how land acquisitions tear apart local communities
In a bid to draw attention to the destructive effects corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies' actions have on small and medium-size farmers, landless people, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers, three GUE/NGL MEPs today co-hosted a conference on land issues in Europe.
Willy Meyer (Spain), João Ferreira (Portugal), and Patrick Le Hyaric (France) spoke at the event, titled 'Land Issues in Europe: From Land Grabbing to Land Reform' and organised in cooperation with European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), the European wing of Via Campesina, an international movement that defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity.
Over 100 participants took part in the discussion on access to land, land concentration and land grabbing. Both EU and national policies which are not providing equal access to land or helping small-scale farmers were called into question.
Willy Meyer commented: “Despite the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) publishing guidelines on Land, Fisheries and Forests in May 2012, the EU and the member states have done little to promote their implementation. While these guidelines definitely fall short on certain aspects of land and water grabbing, they do represent an important first step towards protecting peoples' rights to land.”
João Ferreira highlighted that land grabbing is an issue that touches on many EU policy areas such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Trade Policy: “As a result of these policies, food production and distribution is becoming ever more concentrated and food sovereignty and food security are increasingly threatened.”
Patrick Le Hyaric added: “Big corporations are selling land that they describe as 'unused' when in fact this land is being used by poor families to grow their own food. As such the families are pushed off their land into destitution. We simply can't accept this.”
At the conference Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, presented his recently published 'Land Grabbing Report' which highlights that land grabbing is now a widespread phenomenon in Europe. He said: “Land grabbing is about capturing large areas of land. It involves corruption and fraud, often with the full support of authorities. Traditional agriculture systems are destroyed, unemployment increases, and more harmful chemicals are used. Land grabbing poses a direct threat to peasant farming in Europe.”
Interpretation: EN ES FR PT DE
9h00 – 9h20: Welcome and Introduction
• Welcome : Gabi Zimmer President GUE/NGL (Germany)
• Introduction : Javier Sanchez, Member of the ECVC Coordination Committee
9h20-10h30: 1st Panel – Access to Land, land concentration and land grabbing
• Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands – Presentation of the Land Grabbing Report
• Willy Schuster, Ecoruralis, Romanian national case study
• Eva García Sempere, Coordinator of the Spatial Planning and Environment Unit of IU-Andalusia : “Land Grabbing in Andalusia (Spain): Preparation of the Land Public Bank project”
Moderator: Willy Meyer, GUE/NGL MEP (Spain)
10h30 – 11h00: Press Conference/ Coffee break.
11h00 – 12h10: 2nd Panel – Are the EU and national policies favoring equal access to land and the entry into farming by prospective (young and small) farmers?
• Tassos Haniotis, Director – European Commission, DG Agriculture – Economic analysis, perspectives and evaluations.
• Patrick Le HYARIC, MEP GUE/NGL (France)
• Antonio Onorati, ARI and President of Crocevia – Proposal for a EU Directive on Lands
• Andrea Ferrante, Member of the ECVC Coordination Committee
Moderator: Geneviève Savigny, Member of the ECVC Coordination Committee
12h10-12h30: Debate and conclusions by Joao Ferreira, MEP GUE/NGL (Portugal)