The future development of the Common Agricultural Policy and forestry issues were the main topics of the Prague meeting of the agricultural ministers of the Visegrád Cooperation, plus representatives of Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia and Romania, which was also attended by the representative of Finland currently holding the EU presidency.

At the event, the ministers shared their views on several important details regarding the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy. On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister of State for Agriculture Zsolt Feldman stressed at the meeting that the current grant system that has to date functioned in a predictable manner and with a low margin of error must not be replaced with an uncertain scheme that is difficult to implement. He highlighted that the changes featured in the latest plans are on such a scale that, in the event of their implementation – given the current speed of legislation within the European Union – both farmers and Member States must be given sufficient time to prepare, a transitional period of up to two years which could be sufficient for creating the required national regulations and the adoption in Brussels of a strategic plan laying down the details of the grant system.

At the Prague meeting, the ministers signed a declaration in which they drew the attention of the European political institutions concerned to taking measures for protecting European forests. The application of innovative approaches, the provision of adequate support for and the modernisation of forestry, the simplification of administration and the strengthening of cooperation among Member States – which is promoted by the BIOEAST cooperation, a Hungarian initiative – all contribute to sustainable European forestry.

Mr Feldman stressed that farmers must be incentivised to take part in forestry, as this is what promotes the enlargement of forest areas most effectively. A good example could be the Hungarian decision, in the wake of which – as part of the Regional Development Programme – the government has meaningfully increased both the grants available for forestation and grants that are designed to compensate farmers for agricultural revenues that may be lost due to forestation.

In the case of forestry, too, today both farmers and the relevant authorities should concern themselves not only with trees exclusively, but equally with the entire economic value chain that is related to and built upon trees. This constitutes one of the important basic pillars of sustainable forestry, for the purposes of which strengthening the role of innovation and knowledge transfer is essential, the Minister of State said.

The meeting of V4 agricultural ministers has further strengthened the political and professional cooperation of countries of the region in the development of European policies.