Press release 2017 Press release 2017

OVER 250 NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANISATIONS LAUNCH ALTERNATIVE VISION FOR EUROPE

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INVITATION: Online press briefing, Tuesday June 27, at 10.00, with speakers from a new campaign about rethinking the future EU budget to advance ‘Scenario 6: Sustainable Europe for its Citizens’. More information below.
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Brussels, June 20, 2017 – More than 250 non-government organisations from across Europe have today released an alternative vision for a more democratic, just and sustainable Europe. [1]
Intended to influence the debate on the future direction of Europe, this alternative vision is endorsed by organisations representing a multitude of public interest issues, including labour rights, culture, development, environment, health, women’s rights, youth, and anti-discrimination groups.
It comes ahead of a summit of EU leaders this week with the key issues for Europe’s future on the agenda, including migration, security, jobs and Brexit. This week also marks the one year anniversary of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (June 23) which propelled questions about the future of Europe up the political agenda.
The vision describes a future for Europe in which “sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project,” and the EU focuses on “democracy and participation, social and environmental justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law, and human rights both within Europe and around the globe”.
The organisations are putting this scenario for the future forward as an alternative to proposals from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, including five ‘Future of Europe’ scenarios which are currently being consulted on with member states with first conclusions due at the end of the year. [2]
For SDG Watch Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe, Leida Rijnhout, said: “The five scenarios for the future of Europe put forward by President Juncker are all deeply disappointing and have little connection to the challenges that the European Union faces. Instead we need a bold vision – an alternative sixth scenario – that puts social and environmental wellbeing at the core. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be absolutely key for a future that serves people and the planet, not vested interests.”
General Secretary of EPSU (European Public Service Union), Jan Willem Goudriaan, said: “Public services and decent work are key ingredients for a fairer, more cohesive and sustainable Europe. Everyone benefits from investment in, for example, high quality public healthcare, social services, education, and environmental services. Rather than liberalising public services for the benefit of the few, Europe should develop a proactive strategy to strengthen public investment and democratic accountability in the provision of quality public services for all.”
Director of CEE Bankwatch Network, Petr Hlobil, added: “There is a crisis of imagination in Brussels. Reforming the EU Budget holds part of the key to unlocking a progressive and inspiring new vision for Europe. Innovating in how we involve citizens and civil society in EU spending to build flourishing, sustainable futures, and designing EU finance to create more equal societies through this great transition to sustainable well-being, hold the highest potential to reconnect people with the European project.”
Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance , Nina Renshaw, said: “We are all living healthier lives today thanks to the EU, but it is only through their continued action that we can tackle cross-border health challenges like antimicrobial resistance and make sure we have a healthy population to unlock the full potential of social and economic policies. 70% of Europeans want the EU to do more on health – yet their voices go unheard. The debate on the future of Europe is an unmissable opportunity to put better health at the heart of all policies, ensure stronger protection for patients and consumers and better access to healthcare, which will make a huge difference to all of us.”

ENDS
Notes:
[1] 256 organisations are supporting ‘Scenario 6: Sustainable Europe for its Citizens’, see: http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/other/2017/sustainable-europe-for-citizens-6th-scenario.pdf
[2] The European Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe is available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/white_paper_on_the_future_of_europe_en.pdf
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For more information please contact:
Friends of the Earth Europe/SDG Watch Europe: Leida Rijnhout, Leida.Rijnhout@foeeurope.org, +32 494 89 30 52
EPSU: Jan Willem Goudriaan, jwgoudriaan@epsu.org, +32 475 25 69 12
EPHA: Giulia Vettorem giulia@epha.org, +32 2 233 38 84
CEE BankWatch Network: David Holyoake, david.holyoake@bankwatch.org, +32 470 36 98 17
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MEDIA INVITATION
CEE Bankwatch Network, CEEweb for Biodiversity, Friends of the Earth Europe and SDG Watch Europe invite you to an online press briefing: RETHINKING THE FUTURE EU BUDGET TO ADVANCE A SCENARIO SIX FOR EUROPE
When: Tuesday 27 June 10:00-11:00 CET
Where: The briefing will be live-streamed at http://bankwatch.org/events/PeoplesBudget
Next week the European Commission will release a proposal about the future of the EU’s finances beyond 2020. This reflection paper will be the last piece to Juncker’s White Paper on the Future of Europe, and will provide the first detailed look at the funding arrangements for the five scenarios outlined by the Commission.
A gathering campaign across many Member States is calling for a reformed EU budget to help advance many of the key themes in Scenario Six – the civil society alternative scenario based on sustainability, democracy and social and economic well-being
We invite you to join an online briefing about ‘Scenario Six’ for the Future of Europe, and a fresh approach to the EU’s finances – a People’s Budget – as one of the keys to unlocking a positive future for a new Europe.
For more information about the briefing contact david.hoffman@bankwatch.org

IFOAM EU PRESS RELEASE: Organic regulation negotiations, time for a change

Brussels, 8 June 2017 – Ahead of the upcoming orientation debate at the Council of Agriculture Ministers of 12 June, the Organic and Fair Trade movements and Organic Certifiers reiterate the importance of evaluating whether the text currently on the negotiation table provides real added value to the existing legal framework, or whether alternative approaches need to be envisaged.
According to IFOAM EU, EOCC and FTAO, the current approach to the negotiations is bringing a lose-lose situation for institutions, organic operators and consumers. It will not lead to the overall development of the organic legislative framework and does not meet the initial objectives of the revision process. These included removing obstacles to the development of organic production in the EU, guaranteeing fair competition, maintaining consumer confidence and simplifying the legislation and associated bureaucracy.
Since the 1960s European organic farmers developed strict rules themselves in order to deliver high quality food production according to the principles of fairness, ecology, health and care. The same farmers called for a strong EU organic regulation to harmonise and improve the standards and increase consumer trust, which resulted in the first EU Organic Regulation in 1991. Organic is one of the few sectors ever that wanted to be regulated and certified with clear and transparent rules.
"The future regulation must be technically sound and provide significant added value compared to the current legislation. A win-win situation is still possible by integrating in the current Organic Regulation those aspects discussed during the negotiations that would be expected to lead to a positive development of the organic sector" said IFOAM EU President, CHRISTOPHER STOPES "Continuing with 'negotiation-as-usual' will not meet the real needs of organic producers and European citizens."
He added "As for the most discussed item so far, the presence of residues in organic products, it is important to start the debate from a clear and objective fact: today organic products are often residue-free and rarely contain some residues due to the fact that 95% of EU agriculture relies on the use of chemical pesticides[1]. Organic farmers should not be considered responsible when organic products are contaminated by the chemicals used by their neighbours: the polluter-pays principle must not be turned upside-down."
"It is crucial that the final text is readable, consistent and easy to implement" added EOCC Board member MICHEL REYNAUD "This is not the case at the moment: the text is not technically consistent and clear at this stage. This will cause many problems in implementing it in the future both for the Member States and the certifiers. Particular attention needs to be paid to the control system and the import regime, these are key to maintaining consumer confidence." He added "It should be clear that organic is based on a process approach and it cannot be delegated to a simple tool – the laboratory test – whether a product is organic or not."
"Although Western Europe and North America represent 90% of the global organic market, when it comes to the consumption of certified organic products, Africa, Asia and Latin America are home to 82% of the certified organic farmers. These producers are mostly smallholders exporting to developed markets" said FTAO Executive Director, SERGI CORBALÁN. "The current proposal sets a double-standard for different countries: the EU will accept differences in rules from the US, Canada or Japan whilst it will be very strict with countries in the global South even if their organic standards are often equivalent to the EU ones. Therefore, for a US organic farmer it would be very easy to export to the EU, whereas a farmer from Uganda would have many more costs and a heavy administrative burden to bear. A new and fairer solution needs to be found urgently to address this double-standard. The European Union must stand to its commitments that its trade and agriculture policies will contribute, rather than hinder the global partnership to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030".
IFOAM EU, EOCC and FTAO recognise the huge efforts and work made by the EU Institutions involved in the past months and will continue to contribute constructively to the development of the legislative framework.
During the meeting of the Special Committee on Agriculture of 29th May, 17 Member States opposed the Maltese Presidency request for a new mandate to further negotiate the organic dossier.
There is an increasing dissatisfaction among the Council and the Parliament. The Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Paolo De Castro clearly stated that the proposed text - as it is now - would water down the organic regulation. According to him, the current negotiation process should get to an end and the good discussions taken in the last months should be integrated into the current 'lisbonised' organic regulation as delegated acts.
Ends.

For more information, please contact:
Magdalena Wawrzonkowska, IFOAM EU Communications Manager
+32 (0)2 808 7991, magdalena.wawrzonkowska@ifoam-eu.org
Aurélie Quintin, EOCC Representative
representative@eocc.nu
Sergi Corbalán, FTAO Executive Director
+32 (0)2 543 1923, corbalan@fairtrade-advocacy.org

Notes for editors:
• The IFOAM EU (the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements EU Group) represents actors of all the organic value chain, from the farm to the fork. All the major EU organic farmers' associations as well as processors and certifiers and – through our members – thousands of consumers and citizens are part of IFOAM EU. With its wealth of hands-on field experience and technical knowledge, has always provided valuable input to national and EU institutions on the organic legislation and development policies, and since 1972 the – continuously updated – IFOAM technical standards have been the reference for policymakers all over the world, including for the EU regulations published from 1991 onward.
• The EOCC (European Organic Certifiers Council) is the voice of about 50 control bodies and authorities in Europe and beyond. EOCC has brought constructive proposals throughout the revision process of the EU organic regulation and made numerous improvement suggestions, as EOCC hoped that a “better regulation” could be achieved, serving to protect consumers, supporting fair competition on the organic marketplace and supporting further growth of the organic sector.
• The FTAO (Fair Trade Advocacy Office) speaks out on behalf of the fair-trade movement for fair trade and trade justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International and the World Fair Trade Organisation (respectively with a European and global scope). Through these three networks the FTAO represents an estimate of 2.5 million Fair Trade producers and workers from 70 countries, 24 labelling initiatives, over 500 specialised fair-trade importers, 4,000 World Shops and more than 100,000 volunteers.
[1] https://www.efsa.europa.eu/fr/efsajournal/pub/4791

IFOAM EU represents more than 180 member organizations in the EU-28, the EU accession countries and EFTA. Member organizations span the entire organic food chain and beyond: from farmers and processors organisations, retailers, certifiers, consultants, traders and researchers to environmental and consumer advocacy bodies.

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