'Malta faces unique agricultural challenges' - EU Agriculture Commissioner

European Agriculture commissioner in Malta to discuss the CAP and challenges to small states

EU Agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan (centre) spoke about the unique challenges faced by small island nations like Malta
EU Agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan (centre) spoke about the unique challenges faced by small island nations like Malta

European Agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said that the European Union recognized the need for increased measures to tackle issues of water availability for irrigation purposes.

Speaking during a press conference at the Meridiana wine estate in ta’ Qali, Hogan said that he believed that Malta was facing some unique challenges given that it was a small island nation.

“During a meeting with relevant stakeholders earlier today, we discussed measures to reflect the uniqueness of the island,” he said, adding that although certain weather issues could not be solved, the EU sought to help stakeholders to adapt to pertinent issues and changes.

During the visit, Hogan was accompanied by Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, Environment minister Leo Brincat, and rural affairs parliamentary secretary Roderick Galdes.

Addressing the media, Brincat said that the EU sought to prove that agriculture, the environment and climate change were all inextricably linked and that they need not be pitted against each other.

Hogan further explained that the Juncker plan, which had made €315 billion available to the sector, would make it more possible for member states to adopt the necessary infrastructural changes.

Hogan further highlighted that various changes to the Common Agricultural Policy had sought to do away with bureaucracy and the ‘aura of fear’ around applications for EU funds under the policy.

“One of the changes is added checks by authorities to smooth out any minor errors and make sure everything is in order before data is launched into IT systems.”

Referring to meetings held earlier today, Hogan said he had got the impression that additional attention needed to dedicated to the difficulties faced by smaller producers in Malta, particularly in terms of implementation of the CAP.

“I will be taking the suggestions made by stakeholders earlier today and discussing them during the coming weeks and month,” he said, pledging the commission’s aim to address deficits in the environmental sector.