The conference focused on three topics:
- The European way to quality food: land protection, eco-friendly organic farming and protection of traditional products
- The internationalization of SMEs
- Industrial Renaissance and SMEs: How can the objective of 20% of GDP by 2020 be attained?
The conference was hosted under the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which rotates to a different Member State every six months. It brought together parliamentarians from national parliaments of Member States and candidate Member States of the EU, and a wide array of keynote speakers. Anne McIntosh MP, Chairman of the House of Commons EFRA Committee also attended.
The first session, entitled "The European way to quality food: land protection, eco-friendly organic farming and protection of traditional products", featured keynote presentations by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies, Maurizio Martina; the Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament, Czesław Adam Siekierski; the Vice Chairperson of Confindustria and Chairperson of the Technical Committee for the Protection of "Made in Italy" Goods, Lisa Ferrarini, and the Chairperson of the Working Group on Organic farming of COPA COGECA (European Farmers e European Agri-Cooperatives), Edouard Rousseau.
The second session focused on the internationalization of SMEs. It featured keynote presentations by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda; a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament, Paolo De Castro, and the Chairperson of the Entrepreneurship and SMEs Committee of BusinessEurope, Marta Marti Carrera.
The third session focused on "Industrial Renaissance and SMEs: How can the objective of 20% of GDP by 2020 be attained?" It was introduced by the Vice President of the European Parliament and former European Commissioner for Industry, Antonio Tajani, who promoted the Communication "For a European industrial Renaissance", adopted by the European Commission on 22 January 2014. Keynote presentations were delivered by the Vice Minister of Economic Development, Claudio De Vincenti, and the Director Emeritus of Mediobanca Research Office, Fulvio Coltorti.
Baroness Scott spoke in the plenary debate on the European way to quality food. She referred to the Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy Sub-Committee’s recent report on food waste prevention and highlighted the obvious links to food security. Following a contribution made by Anne McIntosh MP, Lady Scott spoke of the need for urgent action to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain and the actions that can be taken by producers and manufacturers.
In responding to Baroness Scott, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies, Maurizio Martina drew the delegates’ attention to the events taking place as part of Expo Milan 2015 which will concentrate on the theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ and reiterated her point that a co-ordinated effort is required to create a ‘toolkit’ to tackle the issue.
The Minister drew out some wider themes from the discussion and responded to them at length:
- The impact of the economic crisis on agriculture and the food industry
- The issue of traceability and labelling in the food supply chain
- The challenges and opportunities for supporting young people in agriculture
- The reform and simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
- The importance of protecting agri-food excellence
- The urgent need to tackle the issue of Food Waste
Image: Senato Della Repubblica