By Kayleigh Lewis - 7th March 2013
Farmers know better than most that nothing can come without hard work, without discipline and without determination
José Manuel Barroso
Commission president José Manuel Barroso has told a conference that a greening of the common agricultural policy (CAP) can help to restore confidence in the EU.
Barroso was speaking at the sixth forum for the future of agricultural, held in Brussels on Tuesday and attended by policymakers and stakeholders.
This main theme of this year's event was meeting the food and environmental challenge and the sustainable intensification of food production.
The commission leader said, "There is a need to match the growing food demand based on a balanced technological progress, and at the same time there is a need to protect our environment and adapt to climate change."
He said that ecological sustainability is a "sensitive aspect of the future of agriculture", however he said that he believes the CAP has the ability to adapt.
The EU, he said, has one of the most competitive markets with the agri-food and drink industry accounting for six per cent of the bloc's gross domestic product.
He said this is equivalent to "€715bn euro of added value, 15 million companies and 46 million jobs."
However, he told the conference, "I am convinced that for many economic sectors, but in particular for the farming sector, there is no future competitiveness without integrating the environmental challenges, without a reasonable use of our natural resources, without care for biodiversity.
"The case for action is clear: the degrading quality of the soil and the more frequent extreme weather conditions in all parts of Europe and in the world with floods, drought and new pests and diseases are day-to-day proof."
The president said that "sustainability is about dealing today with the challenges that we face tomorrow," which means "making ourselves fit for the future".
Therefore, he said, it is "the bedrock on which a prosperous society is built: confidence."
"Confidence that you will find a job; confidence that you can keep it; confidence that your savings are safe; that the money you invest will have a return; that your pension will be paid."
He said that restoring confidence is at the heart of Europe's strategy to address the economic crisis, and that the EU is "tackling the root causes that made us vulnerable so that we come out of the crisis stronger".
Although there are concerns within the farming sector about the greening of the agricultural policy, Barroso said that "we are engaged in making this change as simple as possible for farmers".
He added, "Farmers know better than most that nothing can come without hard work, without discipline and without determination.
"It is these qualities which Europe needs in abundance and I believe with this determination we will be able to overcome the difficult situation which we have been facing."