The final CAPdown: 5 things you need to know

The pitched battle for the fate of the next EU farming subsidies programme is set to play out next week. Here’s your quick survival guide to the final CAPdown. The post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has reached a turning point, although perhaps this isn’t so obvious at first glance. Positions among different lawmakers are still far apart, while lobbyists and NGOs are stepping up their efforts in a last-ditch attempt to have their voices heard.

While committees in the European Parliament still aren’t talking to each other, conversations between key players can only be held virtually as some of them are self-quarantined and press meetings are also held online. Phones are ringing off the hook and inboxes are full as they are now the only way to get in touch with people involved in the process.

Let’s start with the basics. Why it is said that we are in the middle of the final countdown to CAP – or CAPdown, for the punsters? In 2018, the European Commission put forward its post-2020 CAP proposal. The European Parliament and the EU Council, both then have to sign off on the same amended text to that proposal. To do this, they both meet together with the Commission in hush-hush sit-downs known as ‘trilogues’ in EU-speak. There, they start negotiating on a common final text.

But to kick off discussions, the negotiators – Parliament’s rapporteurs on the file plus a minister of the rotating EU presidency – need a mandate from the institution they represent to negotiate on their behalf.

Two key things happen next week: one is a gathering of farming ministers and, the other is a plenary session at the Parliament. Both occasions are important opportunities to get the required mandates approved and negotiations rolling. So, here are five things to know in the run-up to what could potentially be a crossroad for the next CAP:


  1. Anything could happen in the European Parliament. The role of the Parliament’s committees is to do a sort of ‘screening’ of the different proposals and bring some compromise amendments to the plenary. This time, individual amendments are being presented and will be voted, after a clash between the agriculture (AGRI) and the environment (ENVI) committees. However, this time an agreement among the three largest parties in the European Parliament, the Christian-democrats (EPP), socialists (S&D) and liberals (Renew Europe), has been struck. Although the parties are fairly confident they will have enough hands to move things along, there might be some tricks on the voting lists, so nothing is set in stone just yet.
  2. Ministers don’t seem ready. Parliament’s insiders still believe that after the vote, the trilogue could start immediately in November. However, political discussions on the other side are still ongoing and it remains highly unlikely that a mandate for the German presidency could be agreed next week.
  3. Different sticking points. If the outstanding issue at the Council is the green architecture of the CAP and particularly the eco-scheme, the struggle at the Parliament is also on how to enshrine – or not enshrine – the sustainable targets set in the EU’s new food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy, in the CAP.
  4. NGOs are quite upset. Well, environmental groups are always kind of upset, but this time they’ve called the agreement between the three largest Parliament’s parties a “stinking deal”.
  5. Remote vote. The showdown is not going to be in Strasbourg, where most of the Parliament’s plenaries are set, but not in Brussels either. The entire session will instead be held ‘remotely’ due to the increased risk of coronavirus. This makes it the first huge piece of EU legislation to be voted entirely remotely, which could soon be the new normal for the next few months.

And here’s the last thing you need to know. Although we might be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, whatever happens, we are not at the end of this process just yet. We’re merely at the halfway point. Trilogues still need to be done and negotiations could last a long time – last time they took 18 months, with a grand total of 56 meetings. At the same time, lawmakers need to get cracking and pick up the pace, as time is running out and the risk is increasing that the EU farming subsidies will not continue to flow at the end of the transitional period.

Source: EURACTIV, Gerardo Fortuna and Natasha Foote

UN international day of Rural Women (15/10)

Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19


Women and girls are disadvantaged in this pandemic, a problem aggravated in rural areas. Rural women, with a crucial role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, already face struggles in their daily lives. Now, since COVID-19 and their unique health needs in remote areas, they are less likely to have access to quality health services, essential medicines, and vaccines. Restrictive social norms and gender stereotypes can also limit rural women’s ability to access health services. Furthermore, a lot of rural women suffer from isolation, as well as the spread of misinformation, and a lack of access to critical technologies to improve their work and personal life.

Despite all of that, rural women have been at the front lines of responding to the pandemic even as their unpaid care and domestic work increased under lockdowns.

We need measures to alleviate the care burden and better redistribute it between women and men, and between families and public/commercial services, espcially in the most marginalized remote villages . We need to advocate for sufficient infrastructre and services (water, health, electricity, etc.) to support women’s productive and unpaid care and domestic work, which is exacerbated by the crisis.

The pandemic has also heightened the vulnerability of rural women’s rights to land and resources. Discriminatory gender norms and practices impede women’s exercise of land and property rights in most countries and COVID-19 widows risk disinheritance. Women’s land tenure security is also threatened as unemployed migrants return to rural communities, increasing pressure on land and resources and exacerbating gender gaps in agriculture and food security.

Gender-responsive investments in rural areas have never been more critical.

The theme for this International Day of Rural Women is “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19,” to create awareness of these women’s struggles, their needs, and their critical and key role in our society.

The Invaluable Contribution of Rural Women to Development

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing, has been increasingly recognized. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Even so, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people, who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, are heavily concentrated in rural areas. Poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas. Yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80% of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people. Women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts but are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets, and high-value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops.

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men. Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion, and the effects of climate change.

Source: United Nations

One more pivotal year of key-outcomes and broad participation to the AgriBusiness Forum 2020

AgriBusiness Forum 3rd international edition that was held in Athens on 7 October 2020, highlighting “Food Safety, Security & Resilience: pressing challenges in the COVID-19 era and beyond”, has recorded outstanding success in terms of renowned speakers, high-caliber topics, and furthermore to the extensive number of attendants joined and watched online the real time flow of the conference.

AgriBusiness Forum 2020 success is thanks to its 30 renowned speakers flourished the panels, its 5 high-caliber and content driven sessions, also because of the extensive number of attendants that joined and watched online the real time flow of the conference.

In 2020, AgriBusiness Forum proved its mission being to advancing knowledge for the digitization & digital transformation of the agrifood value chain from seed to fork; and key platform at boosting innovation, integrating partnerships and cross-sectoral cooperation for the future of the production, processing and distribution for safe & value-added products in the digital era.

In 2020, AgriBusiness Forum online module was offered complimentary to the public. Its 10hrs real time flow has been watched by 995 participants, of which 864 in Greek and 131 in English. Audience was consisted of businesses (40,5%), farmers (23,6%), institutions (10,7%), academia (17,1%) and public sector (8,1%).

From left: Mr. Harry Theocharis, Minister of Tourism, Mr. Giannis Balakakis, Chair AgriBusiness Forum, Ms. Stella Ronner-Grubačić, Ambassador of The Netherlands, Mr. Makis Voridis, Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Special thanks to ABF2020 sponsors, namely the companies INTERAMERICAN, ATHENIAN BREWERY (lead sponsors), ALPHA BANK, KARCHER, IFCO, NEKTAR, GNOMON EVENTS, Dipnosofistirio catering, NATU bar-restaurant; and its selected media sponsors, ECONOMIA PUBLISHING, AGROVOICE and AGRONEA.

AgriBusiness Forum 2021 programme features number of cutting-edge networking and learning events in Greece & abroad: (a) the 4th International AgriBusiness Forum in Athens in early November, (b) a regional AgriBusiness Forum in Thessaly in late June, (c) the AgriFood Traction Tour to the Netherlands in late August, (d) an agritourism summit, and (e) masterclasses on entrepreneurship and challenge on innovation.


Christina Mangou

Head Communications, AgriBusiness Forum

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