12 Dec 2019   |   News

Agriculture R&D money will support the Green Deal, EU commissioner says

€10 billion budget for agriculture R&D is to be spent on studying the environmental impact of farming

EU commissioner for agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski. Photo: European Commission

A proposed €10 billion budget for agriculture research is “very good news for researchers and farmers” and will be spent on projects assessing the impact of farming on the environment and devising new business models for food production that are in tune with the European Green Deal, EU agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said in his first public outing since taking office.

“This is a great opportunity for us and we should try and spend this money wisely to support the European Green Deal,” said Wojciechowski.

Speaking at the 2019 EU Agricultural Outlook conference on Tuesday, the commissioner promised to make sure the R&D money is devoted to projects that will ultimately help farmers. “[It] should be spent with farming in mind,” he said. 

The €10 billion R&D pot for agriculture was first proposed by former budget commissioner Gunther Oettinger to mitigate the expected fallout from a cut to EU farming subsidies in the next multiannual EU budget. Oettinger argued cuts to agriculture and regional funding will help increase the budget for Horizon Europe, Europe’s research funding programme.

Oettinger’s successor, Austria’s Johannes Hahn has also warned of possible budget “redeployments” to support the commission’s research programme and its broader innovation agenda.

EU leaders are meeting today to attempt to iron out their differences over the next seven-year budget and agree on how much money member states should send to Brussels.

According to the commission, 1.11 per cent of national gross income would cover its innovation-centred agenda without impinging on agriculture and cohesion budgets, but member states which are net contributors do not want to spend more than 1 per cent.

The EU Common Agricultural Policy has been under scrutiny recently, after an investigation by the New York Times found the farming subsidies went mostly to big companies run by a small group of people with close ties to governments in central and eastern Europe.

Wojciechowski who is from a farming family in Poland, said agriculture “is close to my heart” and promised “more transparency” on how agriculture subsidies are spent to prevent the abuse of EU’s budget.

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up