Dealing with climate change and ensuring agriculture is sustainable are the priorities of the Austrian EU presidency, according to the country’s sustainability minister, Elisabeth Köstinger.
“Since agriculture is one of the major [industries] affected by climate change, it is high time that we also discuss climate protection in the course of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy [CAP],” Köstinger told POLITICO Brussels Playbook in an interview published today.
“We have the chance to reform the CAP, we should discuss this ruthlessly and make decisions,” added Köstinger, who is from the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). Austria currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
“The general theme of the Austrian presidency is a ‘Europe that protects,’” the minister said. “For me, climate protection is at the top of the agenda. My political goal is that climate protection becomes a concern of citizens, not only in Austria, but throughout Europe.” As a result, the Austrian presidency wants to finalize the clean energy package by the end of the year, Köstinger said.
While Vienna is pushing for the next EU budget to shrink, Köstinger said cuts should not come from the agriculture budget.
“It’s the wrong approach to cut across the board,” she said.
Farmers must “create added value in terms of environmental and climate protection,” which is expensive. “The question of whether we can fulfill this task with a reduced budget is actually a very easy one to answer,” Köstinger said. “Agriculture ministers will make very good points as to why we need a good agricultural budget.”