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5th Jun 2020

Poland appeals to EU 'food security' for more money

Food security is one reason why the EU should give more money to farmers after the pandemic, Poland has said.

Europe's agriculture sector "played an enormously significant role in ensuring our security" as European and world trade slowed to a near halt, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a letter to the other EU leaders on 11 May, seen by EUobserver.

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The bloc's farmers "guaranteed a steady supply of food to regions affected by the pandemic," he said.

But farmers were "getting older", young people were not attracted by the sector, and "the number of farms was falling", he warned.

Poland, which has one of Europe's largest farming industries, is a major beneficiary of the EU's common agricultural policy.

But a right-wing Polish government has, over the past five years, clashed with EU peers on judicial reform, migrants, and climate, prompting talk of penal cuts to funding for the country in the next seven-year EU budget.

Poland, for instance, does not want to take part in the Green Deal, the EU's ambition to become carbon-neutral.

But despite the political context, Morawiecki asked for more money for Polish farmers in 2021-2027 and claimed he wanted it so that farmers would make a better "contribution to the European Green Deal".

The EU should in future give farmers 10 percent more than they had been getting in 2018, he said.

He also criticised EU state-aid relief plans, saying they will aggravate the gap between rich and poor societies in Europe.

The European Commission has said farmers can get up to €100,000 each from their national governments to get over the virus slowdown and farming companies can get up to €800,000.

But not all national governments could afford to pay so much, and that meant a "drastic deepening of the development gap" in Europe, Morawiecki said.

His ideas come amid wider discord over EU budget and pandemic recovery plans, with the wealthy north wary of paying for Europe's south, which has a history of profligacy.

Poland recently fell in line with an EU court injunction to suspend its latest set of laws on muzzling the judiciary.

But despite that, Poland's authority in the EU Council, where member states meet to take decisions, has deteriorated in recent years.

"Tell me one thing - one thing - that Poland has achieved at the European level since this government came to power?", Radek Sikorski, a Polish opposition MEP and former foreign minister, recently told EUobserver in an interview.

Poland was becoming a one-party state that was increasingly "closed off" from the EU and the wider world, Igor Tuleya, a government-critical Polish judge, who risks going to jail for his views, also said.

Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Commission vice-president in charge of competition Margarethe Vestager argued that companies getting large capital injections from the state during the corona crisis still have to offset their competitive advantage.

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