The European Commission for farmers failing cheap imports, says Macron’s key ally

Julien Denormandie has written a book in which he warns against brewing farmers’ revolt – AURELIEN MEUNIER/GETTY

The European Commission is failing farmers by dragging its feet on imposing the same environmental norms on foreign imports as it does on the continent, the former French agriculture minister has warned.

France receives around €10 billion in subsidies per year through the Common Agricultural Policy and has enough farmland to be self-sufficient.

But he imports cheap Chinese black wheat to make his famous Breton galettes, Canadian seeds treated with EU-banned pesticides to make Dijon mustard, and vast quantities of Brazilian chicken full of antibiotics that are off-limits to poultry farmers. of Europe.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Julien Denormandie, one of Emmanuel Macron’s closest allies, said that although he was staunchly pro-European, this kind of contradiction meant he “completely understood” the farmers’ revolt. to defeat France and other European countries. recent months.

The EU’s draconian agricultural standards only worked if they were also applied to foreign imports, he said, adding that the European Commission had canceled his efforts while in government to introduce so-called “mirror clauses”. on them to introduce.

His comments echoed those of British farmers who descended on Westminster last week with 150 tractors to anger the government for allowing cheap imports produced using chemicals and methods they are banned in the UK.

Mr Denormandie, 43, was among Mr Macron’s first ardent supporters when he ran for president in 2017 and became the respected agriculture minister from 2019-22.

Facing the Commission’s persecution of banning Brazilian poultry that had been “grown” with antibiotics – which are only allowed to treat sick animals in the EU – he used a decree to banned anyway in France.

Farmers' uprisings have swept France and other European countries in recent monthsFarmers' uprisings have swept France and other European countries in recent months

Farmers’ uprisings have swept France and other European countries in recent months – JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP

He also tried to press the Commission on the expected impact on farmers of his Green Market to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, an issue that has been a major bone of contention for farmers in the Netherlands. and elsewhere.

The emissions targets “reduced European agricultural production by between 7 and 15 percent, increasing food and import prices”, he said.

He complained that while the EU is very good at setting targets in terms of protecting the environment in terms of “creating production targets in terms of cereals, proteins, we don’t have any”.

“Once we have set these two objectives, the question is how are we going to succeed? This vision is missing,” he said.

He left politics to join a carbon data startup called Sweep in 2022.

He has since written a book in which he warned of a brewing farmers’ revolt in a chapter called “Le monde à l’envers” – the world turned upside down – which later became a farmers’ cry .

Farming is seen as a key issue in the upcoming European Parliament elections where the hard-line National Rally is currently voting to beat the Macron camp.

Gabriel Attal, the French prime minister, even called him for “advice” on how to get rid of the French farmers who blocked Paris.

“The sources of the rebellion are complex,” he said.

“A decent income is a high priority. A terrible mistake was made in France 20 years ago, which was to completely liberalize what is called the food chain, that is the relationship between farmers, manufacturers and supermarkets, by giving supermarkets full powers to set prices reduction.

“In doing so, they dropped the income of farmers.”

The EU went some way to answering farmers' complaints by loosening controls on farms and reducing environmental restrictionsThe EU went some way to answering farmers' complaints by loosening controls on farms and reducing environmental restrictions

The EU went some way to answering farmers’ complaints by loosening controls on farms and reducing environmental restrictions – MATTEO CORNER/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

The European Commission has not addressed this problem properly, he said.

Second, farmers want recognition. “In one scene in the book, an old farmer told us: ‘You know, 40 years ago, when I was driving my tractor on the same road I’m on today, people would raise their hands to say hello , but now. people honk their horns to tell me to get out of the way.”

Last week, the EU went some way to answering farmers’ complaints by loosening controls on farms and reducing pesticide and environmental restrictions, such as the obligation to keep 4 percent of farmland fallow.

Mr Denormandie was skeptical about what the opposition National Rally could realistically offer farmers to improve their situation.

“It is always easier to say, as populists do, that we will destroy everything with simplistic lies than to build through creative efforts,” said Mr. Denormandie.

Like Mr Macron, he also highlighted the “deep-rooted collusion between the French far-right and the Russian regime that invaded Ukraine and kills its opponents”.

Apart from Marine Le Pen’s long-standing closeness to Vladimir Putin and her party’s loan to a bank with Kremlin connections, he pointed out that her party refused to vote in the European Parliament on a resolution denouncing the conditions in which Alexei Navalny was held a year before a. death

‘Food as a weapon’

Mr Denormandie warned that Russia was using “food as a weapon” and was playing catch-up with the West with wheat warfare.

Russia and Ukraine together account for 30 percent of global wheat exports and 80 percent of sunflower seed products, and Russia is one of the world’s largest fertilizer exporters.

“For years even while arming itself, Russia increased its production from 35 million tons of wheat in 2000 to 90 million today and is showering many countries with its wheat (Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, the Senegal),” he writes in his book.

“Before launching his tank, [Vladimir] Putin sharpened his wheat army.”

As proof, he cites Russian exports to Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer.

About a decade ago, the West accounted for 70 percent of Egypt’s wheat imports but by the time Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine, 60 percent of Egypt’s imports came from Russia.

“The owl went in his fans [the] the stomach of Egypt,” he writes. “So it is not surprising that Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was welcomed in Egypt in July 2022, four months after the start of the war, for talks on the delivery of wheat.”

Ukraine’s absurd decision to continue producing and exporting wheat was not only to feed its population and keep its economy afloat but “because it knows that if it doesn’t, it will the Russian man instead”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *