Strengthening the social and labor rights of farmers and agricultural workers – Romain Schneider, Anette Kramme, Pedro Marques and 1 other
The opportunity for CAP reform to cultivate fairer and more sustainable agriculture should not be wasted.
Agriculture has long been the foundation of our economies. It produces most of the food and raw materials in the European Union and supports many rural communities. It has also long been a priority for the EU – the common agricultural policy has been in place for almost 60 years in one form or another.
As we work to prepare the EU for the future, it is right that we focus on how we can transform agriculture.
Under the leadership of Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, sustainability has been put at the top of the EU agenda. The objectives of the European Green Deal put the EU on the path to climate neutrality. This will require changes: Farmers and farm workers will have to adapt, transition to new jobs and learn new skills.
For the Social Democratic family, the key point is that this green transition must not leave anyone behind. This is why the Green Deal promotes a just transition, which protects our farmers and agricultural workers, ensuring that ecological and social dimensions go hand in hand.
The reform of the CAP currently being negotiated by the European institutions rightly seeks to realign policy on the Green Deal. The CAP provides significant financial support to EU farmers and this funding will increasingly be conditional on compliance with certain environmental standards.
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It’s positive. But for socialists and democrats, the search for more sustainable agriculture must go hand in hand with the search for stronger social rights. It is at the heart of our vision of a just transition.
While farmers and farm workers ensure that European citizens have food, those working in the agri-food sector often do not enjoy high social standards. Agricultural work is notoriously difficult, with long working hours and difficult working conditions. Everyone recognizes the harshness and difficulty of farming life, but not enough is being done to correct this social injustice.
Not just income assistance
For farmers, the income support provided by the CAP is not all they need. They also need good living conditions, health insurance, adequate pensions, childcare and eldercare, the opportunity to take days off and an opportunity to build a life. social.
More than 70 percent of EU farmers have not received any agricultural training beyond their own practical experience. Yet adequate skills are a prerequisite for the transition to more sustainable agriculture, and access to education and training is just as important in agriculture as in other sectors.
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We want to see the social protection of farmers strengthened through the CAP, taking into account the social needs and specific conditions of agriculture. We must do it now if we are to ensure that agriculture remains a sustainable and attractive sector for generations to come.
We also need to do more for agricultural workers. Exploitation is still too frequent. Workers are often employed on short-term contracts that leave them with no job security and insufficient (or no) social security coverage, exposing them to the risk of in-work poverty and social exclusion.
The pandemic has exposed them to even more dangers – inadequate working and housing conditions that make social distancing and a lack of protective gear impossible. Labor rights violations, exploitation and forced labor continued during the pandemic, across the EU.
We must seize the opportunity of the new CAP to also improve the conditions of agricultural workers, by including a form of social conditionality in the CAP. With the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the publication of an action plan for its implementation under the leadership of Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, the EU aspires to more progress social. It is time to live up to these ambitions.
Making the CAP greener is a positive step to speed up our path to climate neutrality – it will protect our environment and the health of our citizens. But for this reform to be truly successful, truly fair, it must embrace the social pillar and ensure that agriculture contributes to social progress.
The disbursement of CAP funding should be based on compliance with environmental and social standards. If social and labor laws are not sufficiently taken into account, farm households will find it difficult to reconcile a seven-day working week on the farm and working conditions in agriculture will continue to deteriorate, with wages low, insufficient legal protection and unsanitary working conditions.
The coronavirus crisis has shown how essential farmers and farm workers are to the basic functioning of our societies. Without them, there would be no farming system. When stocks were low in our supermarkets, they produced food to replenish them. They deserve a better deal.
As European socialists and democrats, we believe that every worker in the EU has the right to decent and fair working conditions. Farmers and farm workers are no exception.
Through the European Green Deal and the social pillar, the EU has defined clear commitments and ambitions. He has the possibility of sowing the seeds thanks to a reformed CAP. We must not lose this opportunity to cultivate a socially just and more sustainable future for all citizens.