Blog: Dean BestWhy food is centre stage in the French EU presidency

Dean Best | 11 July 2008

France is investing heavily in its EU presidency. Up to EUR190m (US$300.4m) has been earmarked to put a French accent on the rest of the year.

The preparations have been detailed: in March, farm minister Michel Barnier moved his entire office staff to Brussels for a week to build better working relationships.

Barnier's ministry organised a series of national conferences about food production and consumption earlier this year, which culminated in an international conference on feeding the world, held in Brussels on 3 July.

Public debate about food is a central plank of the French presidency. The French have an earthbound vision of food that aspires to greater things. They classify food on a spectrum that ranges from 'industrial' to the specialist local artisan products that make up a regional 'terroir'.

A French government bid to have its food specialities granted World Heritage status by Unesco is based on this geography of food.

Throughout this year, the French government has bombarded its public with the notion that the Common Agricultural Policy has somehow saved postwar Europe from food shortages and terminal decline. However, the CAP's heavy-handed, production-driven early years also went a long way to destroying a lot of the diversity that France celebrates in its food heritage.

Now, still committed to energy-intensive farming, Barnier is calling for European farmers to produce "more and better". From being a derogatory postwar term, the word "peasant" has also recovered a degree of respectability in recent years.

Possibly because there are so few left.

Peter Crosskey


BLOG

Reckitt Benckiser clears final Mead Johnson hurdle

The final regulatory approval needed for the UK-based consumer goods giant's takeover of the US infant formula maker has been received, with the US$17.9bn deal set to be completed on Thursday (15 June...

BLOG

Barilla puts sustainability centre stage

Barilla's 2016 results statement, published last week, makes interesting reading, not because of the Italian food group's commercial performance, but for the emphasis placed on sustainability achievem...

BLOG

UK M&A deal volumes slide in early months of 2017

Fresh data from Grant Thornton indicates the number of mergers and acquisitions in the UK food and drink sector fell to the lowest level for over two years in the first quarter of in 2017 - but the ac...

just-food homepage



Forgot your password?