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The agri-food sector should be considered as a strategic sector in the regulatory field

| News | Agrifood

Andersen analyses the main challenges facing the agri-food sector in Spain and the European Union in a colloquium with the Director of the Representation of the European Commission in Spain, María Ángeles Benítez

The recent economic, political and social changes are creating new challenges for the agri-food sector, which is proving to be "a strategic sector", as could be seen with the establishment of the green corridors during the pandemic.

This was made clear during the conference Challenges of the agri-food sector in Spain and the European Union organised by Andersen with the aim of responding to the crucial issues facing the sector, such as food safety, strategic geo-food and the social impact of the food industry.

The event was attended by María Ángeles Benítez, Director of the Representation of the European Commission in Spain, who, until taking up this post on 1st April 2021, has developed her career in the European Commission mainly in the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development, where she held the position of Deputy Director General. The meeting was also attended by María Canal Fontcuberta, Economic Advisor of the European Commission Representation in Spain, José Vicente Morote, Managing Partner of Andersen, José Miguel Soriano, Partner of Andersen and head of the agri-food group of the Firm, and Rafael Ripoll, Of Counsel of the Firm.

During the opening speech, José Vicente Morote highlighted Andersen's firm commitment to the agri-food sector, being at the forefront and adding value by organising conferences that monitor each regulatory change with the help of the major institutional player, María Ángeles Benítez for example.

During her presentation, María Ángeles Benítez emphasised how the new CAP has led to the implementation of a new working method based on "a policy oriented towards the market and results, moving from the product to the producer". She also explained that with this new system, the Commission proposes environmental, social and economic objectives to the Member States and the latter must create a strategic plan to tackle them, generating a dialogue between both parties.

María Ángeles Benítez carried on explaining that this change in working method involves "simplifying the architecture of agricultural cross-compliance", adding new instruments such as incentives instead of sanctions, the eco-schemes. Another novelty he highlighted is the weight given to the knowledge factor through the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS), the aim of which is to achieve greater modernisation and professionalisation of the sector.

At the same time, she pointed out that agricultural policy is no longer an isolated policy, since the Green Pact implemented by the European Commission has meant adding a focus on climate change and digitisation to all the actions of the Member States.

Finally, among the main challenges facing the sector, María Ángeles Benítez highlighted the decrease in the number of farmers, the ageing of the sector and the low female presence, as well as the under the radar or invisible work of women in the countryside.

For her part, María Canal Fontcuberta pointed out that, among the important measures that have been taken in the sector, is the inclusion of the third component in the Spanish Recovery Plan, with a series of reforms and investments aimed at the agricultural and fishing sector with the aim of improving its sustainability, digitalisation and innovation, which has resulted in combination with investments from other components in the agri-food PERTE approved by the Spanish Government.

Finally, José Miguel Soriano emphasised "the legal component contained in all these challenges for the sector and the regulatory gaps that still exist", which is why he advocated "the need to position it as a strategic sector not only on an intellectual level, but also on a regulatory level".

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