Monday

27th Mar 2017

French G20 leadership to focus on commodity prices

  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy outlining France's G20 priorities (Photo: Elysee palace)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that tackling instability in global commodity markets will be a key aim of France's presidency of the Group of 20 major economies.

Outlining France's G20 priorities at a press conference in Paris on Monday (24 January), Mr Sarkozy appeared to back away from earlier calls to change the Bretton Woods system of global monetary order however, seen as a response to recent US resistance in this area.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"If we don't do anything we run the risk of food riots in the poorest countries and a very unfavourable effect on global economic growth," the French centre-right leader told diplomats and journalists.

"The day there are food riots, what country at the G20 table will say this does not concern them? I don't see a single one," he added.

A report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) earlier this month said global food prices hit an all-time record in December, surpassing the levels seen during the 2007-08 crisis that caused riots in Haiti and parts of Asia.

Unrest over food prices has also resulted in protests in Algeria and other parts of northern Africa this year, with France among EU member states that blame speculators for the rise in commodity prices. Economists are split on the subject.

The European Commission last month called for greater transparency in commodity trading, and is reportedly set to include a separate chapter on the subject in a paper on raw materials to be published this Wednesday.

Originally intended to focus on securing EU access to raw materials such as rubber, minerals and metals, Paris is thought to have succeeded in persuading the commission to include a section on commodities at the last minute, despite German fears this will detract from the document's main message.

France has also used the debate over food security to argue against a radical overhaul of the EU's common agricultural policy post 2013, with CAP reform among the topics under discussion by EU farm ministers in Brussels on Monday.

A group of 22 EU member states, led by France, signed a declaration in late 2009, insisting that an ambitious, continent-wide agricultural policy is essential to secure Europe's food independence.

But some analysts argue that food security is a weak argument for a EU farm policy based on subsides, currently valued at roughly €55 billion a year.

"We are already producing far more food than we need and there are huge gains in productivity still to be made," Valentin Zahrnt, a CAP expert with the European Centre for International Political Economy, a Brussels-based think-tank, told this website.

"EU families currently spend roughly 12 percent of their income on food. This is historically very low," he added. "Even if basic food prices doubled, or even tripled, it wouldn't hurt EU citizens."

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

Poutine s’immisce dans l'élection française

Poutine a traité la leader anti-UE Marine Le Pen, comme si elle avait déjà remporté la présidentielle. "J'ai mon propre point de vue, qui coïncide avec celui de la Russie", a-t-elle affirmé.

Investigation

How the Italian mafia found a Dutch home

One of the biggest mafia trials in Europe in recent years is about to end. Members of the Crupi clan are accused of smuggling vast amounts of cocaine from South America to Italy, using the Netherlands as their main hub.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  2. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  3. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  4. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  6. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  7. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  8. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  10. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  11. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  12. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People