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State Secretary Dr Blaž Germšek attends the informal meeting of agriculture ministers

State Secretary Dr Blaž Germšek has attended the informal meeting of agriculture ministers in Genk. The discussion focused on how to increase the EU's self-sufficiency in protein crops, while considering all three aspects of sustainability.

The State Secretary emphasised in his intervention that, since this discussion involves a broader question of what the EU's food system should look like in the future, it should be addressed comprehensively. He highlighted the importance of considering the entire "farm to fork" chain, including demand, as it can have a significant impact on production changes.

The Secretary of State and the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister shake hands next to the flags and in front of the panel with the logos of the Belgian Presidency

State Secretary dr. Blaž Germšek with the host of the informal meeting, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium David Clarinval | Author Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food

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It is vital to review Europe's protein supply and establish targets at the European level, taking into account production potentials (including natural conditions and the availability of agricultural land), environmental and climate aspects, and social considerations. At the meeting, State Secretary Germšek stressed the need to examine the availability of production resources, knowledge gaps in protein crop production, the implications for livestock production and the market for these products, including consumers and the industry.

Therefore, it is necessary to review the supply of protein crops in Europe and establish targets for the EU. We should focus on targets to reduce protein imports into the EU, increase local production of protein crops, and consider consumer demand trends, as well as examine the share of research and other public funds used for this purpose.

A comprehensive approach and coordination among various European policies are needed to promote protein diversification. Although the common agricultural policy (CAP) is a robust mechanism, this is a broader question. "The EU's external trade policy can establish the same conditions for both EU and non-EU producers, and the CAP can boost the production of protein crops through coupled payments and the entire green architecture of CAP strategic plans," stressed the State Secretary.

We should consider synergies with the industrial policy and smart specialisation and fill the knowledge gaps with the support of the European research policy. At the same time, it is important to ensure the transfer of this knowledge to farmers. Additionally, it is important to coordinate policies on labelling transparency, consumer protection and health to enable consumers to recognise the added value of EU production.