Forging Europe’s competitiveness through the Agri-food industry

Date

10 Jun 2010

Sections

EU Priorities 2020
Agriculture & Food

Press release

(Brussels, 9 June 2010)

European food and drink manufacturers today called on the EU to prioritise the competitiveness of the Agri-food industry, as a key measure in its efforts to improve Europe’s economic future.

Welcoming progress to date through the multi-stakeholder High Level Group on the Agri-food industry, the CIAA (Confederation of the food and drink industries of the EU) believes implementation of the 30 Recommendations published by this Group, offers the best means of achieving the EU’s 2020 growth ambitions (which include building an ‘innovation union’, improving the overall business environment, and supporting the development of a strong and sustainable industrial base for EU manufacturing).

The EU is the largest exporter and importer of food worldwide, and the European food and drink industry is the EU’s single largest manufacturing sector. Building competitiveness in the food and drink industry is therefore central to Europe’s overall economic growth and sustainability.

Since the High Level Group (HLG) report in July 2009, the Commission has announced new plans to extend its membership and mandate to create a broader structure known as the ‘Food Chain Effectiveness Forum’. Today, CIAA hosted a high level debate to discuss progress on implementation of the HLG Recommendations, and to hear directly from Industry Commissioner, Antonio Tajani, about his plans to drive forward this agenda.

“The Commission will set up […] the Food Chain Effectiveness Forum, which it will be my pleasure to chair with the support of my colleagues Messrs. Barnier, Ciolos and Dalli. The Forum will be the ideal place for open debate on the implementation of the initiatives proposed by the High Level Group and by the Commission. […] The work of several platforms will be channelled into the Forum’s discussions, most notably, a task force on contractual relations, a task force on agri-logistics and a task force on industrial competitiveness”.

Laurent Freixe, CIAA Board Member responsible for Competitiveness and Executive Vice-President of Nestlé, commented:

“ Europe’s food and drink industry strongly welcomes the constructive and effective partnership that has been forged through the High Level Group on the Agri-food industry. As we look to the future and the creation of the Forum - as well as the broader development of a Community Industrial Policy - we urge the Commission to maintain the momentum on these crucial competitiveness issues for our industry and we stand ready to support this process.”

Out of the 30 recommendations of the High Level Group, CIAA and its members have identified 7 priority areas:

Taking a holistic approach to policymaking, right across the food supply chain;

Ensuring the sufficient supply of raw materials at competitive prices;

Improving the functioning of the overall food supply chain;

Driving forward the work of the Sustainable Production and Consumption Round Table;

A continuing focus on incident management;

Promoting nutritional information to consumers; and

Providing specific support for SMEs in the sector.

As partners in the multi-stakeholder process, CIAA members have also been playing their part in implementing the High Level Group’s Recommendations. Recent actions include work on the ‘holistic approach’ in the field of information to consumers; taking first steps towards establishing a social dialogue with counterparts; delivering the first results of the work of the Food Chain Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Round Table; and linking the European Technology Platform (ETP) Food for Life to the outcomes of the High Level Group by developing a business plan going forward.

Also speaking at the event, President of the CIAA, Jesús Serafín Pérez, commented: “In the face of global competition, we are working hard to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s food and drink industry. A thriving food and drink sector means a thriving European economy, which is why this is so important for the future.”