The Andalusian Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Clara Aguilera, announced a meeting, to take place on March 7th in Brussels, of a “European Forum of Olive Regions,” an initiative promoted by Andalusia and signed by 13 European production areas.
The Forum’s aim is to defend the strategic interests of the olive sector and in the development of the olive territories of the participating regions, which are Dubrovnik-Neretva and Istria (Croatia), Andalusia and Catalonia (Spain), Corsica, Langedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Cote d’Azur-Alpes and Rhone-Alpes (France), Crete and Sterea Ellada (Greece), and Emilia Romagna, Puglia and Tuscany (Italy). The territories comprise represent over half of Europe’s land area devoted to olive groves.
The Forum, which is still open for accession by other producing areas, is supported by the Assembly of the European Regions producing Fruit, Vegetables and Plants (AREFLH) and the Association of European Regions for Origin Products (AREPO).
Their work will focus primarily, according to the Ministry of Andalusia, on influencing European Union policies and playing an important role in the process of making decisions that affect the olive sector. Also, the Forum will promote the sharing of strategies between the government, the private sector and the consumer, focused on efficiency, competitiveness, sustainability, quality and marketing.
Among other initiatives, participating regions will launch a European prices, markets and costs “observatory,” as a reference for the activation of mechanisms of regulation and the recognition of crises.
The group also plans to coordinate marketing and promotional activities aimed at the distinction of olive oil as a healthy product.
As part of the forthcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Olive Regions defend the model of direct payments for production and not by surface.
The Forum will demand greater power for producer organizations, so that they can improve their bargaining power in the agri-food value chain, compared to large retailers. They will request the creation of Community rules that can establish and update a private storage mechanism depending on the variable price thresholds and production costs at the time.
Finally, the participating regions in the Forum will request the implementation of national support programs co-financed with European funds similar to those already developed in other areas facing structural difficulties, as is the case with nuts.
- The olive grove is the most representative and symbolic agriculture in the South European Union, with 4.4 million hectares under cultivation.
- Andalusia concentrates over 34 percent of the European olive surface and its 1.5 million acres produce 40 percent of the olive oil on the continent, with an average production of around 1.2 million tonnes per year.
- Olive cultivation brings together over 800 mills, which represent the main activity for more than 300 Andalusian municipalities and 250,000 households.
- The four main European producers of olive oil (Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal) comprise 70 percent of world production of olive oil and about 30 percent of table olives.