Energy & Environment

European Commission launches the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Agriculture

January 2024
By Sara Bellucci

In a critical moment for the future of agriculture in the European Union (EU), challenged by the urgent need to make it more sustainable while at the same time ensuring the competitiveness of the sector and food security, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has officially launched the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Agriculture. This new forum was then given the mandate to develop a shared vision for the EU’s farming and food system, tackling key challenges and exploring opportunities to ensure a sustainable and thriving future.

The Strategic Dialogue, unveiled by President von der Leyen during her 2023 State of the Union address, seeks to address fundamental questions regarding the future of agriculture in the EU brought forth by participants.

Providing a platform for farmers and key stakeholders across the agri-food chain to voice their perspectives, ambitions, concerns, and solutions, it will be focusing on fostering a targeted and fruitful discussion to find common ground for the future of the Union’s agri-food sector. How can farmers and rural communities achieve a better perspective and a fair standard of living? How can agriculture be supported within the boundaries of the planet and its ecosystems? How can knowledge and technological innovation be harnessed effectively? And how can a bright and thriving future for Europe’s food system be promoted in a competitive world? These are some of the key topics to be addressed.

President von der Leyen emphasized the timeliness of the initiative, stating, “The time is ripe to forge a new consensus on food and farming among farmers, rural communities, and all other actors on the EU agri-food chain“. Acknowledging the central role of EU farmers and the food industry, she highlighted the challenges they face, ranging from climate change to inflation and volatile market impacts.

Indeed, under the leadership of Professor Peter Strohschneider, renowned for his extensive experience as the chair of the German Federal Government’s “Commission for the Future of Agriculture”, this initiative will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from the entire agri-food chain, encompassing farmers, co-operatives, agri-food businesses, rural communities, non-governmental organizations, civil society representatives, financial institutions, and academia. The aim is to build the new agricultural strategy on a solid consensus of all stakeholders involved.

Professor Strohschneider expressed its confidence in the project, stating, “The Strategic Dialogue aims to bring together agriculture and the preservation of nature so that they go hand in hand. I’m convinced that it is possible to reasonably balance the economic, ecological, and social aspects of the entire food system in a way that takes into account the wide variety of this field“.

More concretely, stakeholders will be taking part in a series of thematic meetings scheduled for the first half of 2024, fostering in-depth discussions on various aspects of agriculture and food production. The involvement of the Council and European Parliament in the process ensures a comprehensive approach, with Professor Strohschneider regularly updating and exchanging views with both institutions on the progress of the Dialogue.

As the Dialogue progresses, the chair, Professor Strohschneider, in collaboration with participants, will define the precise format of the conclusions. President von der Leyen concluded her opening statement wishing good luck to Professor Strohschneider, reinstating her trust in his expertise, knowledge and ideas.