On April 14th, 2016, AREPO held its General Assembly in Strasbourg and participated in the meeting of the Intergroup “Wine, Spirits and Quality Foodstuffs”, chaired by MEP Herbert Dorfmann.
The Intergroup held in the morning was focused on “Quality products in the long-term strategy for European agricultural research and innovation by 2020 and beyond”.
AREPO Vice-president, Jean-Louis Cazaubon, presented AREPO activities and introduced the discussion highlighting the importance of research and innovation for Geographical Indications (GIs). “GIs are not defined by an immutable tradition. On the contrary, they are driven by multiple innovation processes. They represent a tradition of innovation. They are instruments of modernity that must evolve to fit societal expectations, technological advances and environmental issues. For this reason, research is critical to understand the complexity of this traditional production systems and innovation is fundamental to create the right tools for their development”, stated the Vice-president.
AREPO Secretary-General, Laurent Gomez, presented the position paper on the Commission strategic approach to EU agricultural research and innovation, a shared work of AREPO and the European Research Group (ERG) SYAL, aiming at contributing to the discussion on the long-term strategy for European agricultural research and innovation. The Secretary-General argued that “the enormous potential of origin and quality products for the sustainable development of rural areas is still underutilized in the European Union. This requires strengthening EU policies directly or indirectly related to quality schemes and assuring that Horizon 2020 priorities for work programme 2018-2020 include the research needs and issues related to Localised Agro-Food Systems and GIs, in order to unlock their potential for a sustainable rural development.”
The Minister of Agriculture of Emilia-Romagna Region, Simona Caselli, described the regional strategy of valorisation of quality and origin products. In order to unlock the economic and social potential of GIs, Emilia-Romagna region has placed these products at the heart of its rural development programme and has implemented a strong measure to support the creation of the operational groups for agricultural innovation. Around half of the project proposals for operational groups presented at the opening of the first call in 2016 concerns quality products and GIs. This result represents a practical demonstration of the importance of innovation in this sector and the European Commission should take into account this high demand for research and innovation on quality products when defining the priorities for the next work programme.
In the afternoon, AREPO General Assembly was held in Hemicycle of Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine Regional Council with the participation of the team of Alsace Qualité, which presented Alsatian products under quality schemes, as well as the scheme “Savourez l’Alsace – Produit du Terroir”.
Other points in the agenda were AREPO position on the TTIP, the CAP mid-term review, the state of the art of the negotiations on new organic farming regulation, the promotion policy of European agricultural and food products, non-agricultural GIs, and AREPO participation in European projects.