In the post-Brexit Europe, self-examination seems to have come sharply into focus.

With Cork 2.0 approaching, the recently-published Sustainability Now! A European Vision for Sustainability was commissioned by European Commission presdient Jean-Claude Juncker himself.

Written by senior adviser Karl Falkenberg, it sets out to make an economic case for making farming less industrial, more labour-intensive and using fewer chemicals.

It might even be a precursor of a Cork conference that would try to win back as much integrity as possible for a beleaguered EU.

“At the first Cork Conference back in 1996, this is where the second pillar of the current CAP was designed,” says Faustine Defossez, senior policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau.

“It was the conference that kicked off the agenda of rural development. 

"What they want to do now with this conference is to evaluate rural development, but it’s also a sign that there is a willingness to talk about the future of the policy, and how the CAP can be improved post-2020. 

"It’s quite an important conference, because the idea is not necessarily to repeat what was done 20 years ago, but to have forward thinking about the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.”

She says the importance of Cork 2.0 will be even more heightened in an era where increasing Euro-scepticism has already seen one member state vote to leave the EU.

“What I often say to people is that now that the policy is ‘broken’, we’re paying for it three times. 

"First because we all pay for the subsidies through our taxes, secondly because we’re paying for the food itself, and thirdly because we still have to pay for the damage to our environment.”


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