SOTEU 2023: We need more dialogue and less polarisation to tackle the new challenges in agriculture

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The President of the European Commission highlighted how farmers are crucial to the development of a more sustainable form of agriculture. Therefore, it is necessary to work with farmers to tackle the challenges they are facing, arguing that we need more dialogue and less polarisation. 

Today, on September 13th, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered the State of the Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. During her one-hour statement, von der Leyen reflected on the work done by her Commission in the last four years and on what still needs to be achieved ahead of the European Elections in June 2024. The speech touched on multiple topics, from the European Green Deal, Economy and Competitiveness to Digital and Artificial Intelligence, Migration and Security, and the War in Ukraine. 

 The President of the European Commission clarified today that food security remains an essential task, expressing her appreciation to the European farmers for their resilience and for working towards self-sufficiency without prejudicing quality. In addition, Ursula von der Leyen announced the launch of a strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture in the EU. 

“Many are already working towards a more sustainable form of agriculture. We must work together with the men and women in farming to tackle these new challenges. That is the only way to secure the supply of food for the future. We need more dialogue and less polarisation. 

In the last few years, Re-Imagine Europa’s Task Force on Sustainable Food Systems and Innovation has been working towards this crucial goal in close cooperation with the European Commission and the European Parliament, together with representatives of farmers, academia, industry, and consumers. To achieve the objectives set by President von der Leyen, it is imperative to go beyond the existing polarisation in the public discussion about agriculture, sustainability and innovation and focus on common values to facilitate a constructive debate. To drive sustainability and innovations in the European agricultural system, we must focus on the solutions rather than the existing problems. Farmers and their needs need to be put at the centre of the debate since they are a key element of the innovative framework that must be implemented for the future of European food systems and agriculture. Such orientation has been widely presented in our latest events like the Global Conference on Sustainability in Agriculture & Food Systems: Innovation, Indicators and Implementation and the Exhibition “What’s new in the Farmers’ Market?”

Moving forward, we will soon publish a Depolarisation Manual on the communication of new technologies and innovation that will seek to promote the development of a new ecosystem of narratives that goes beyond existing polarisations. This handbook will offer concrete and precise guidance on how to use narrative methodology to depolarize the debate with respect to new technologies in European agriculture.  

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