PROFEL Parliamentary evening
PROFEL held its first Parliamentary evening on 29th November at the Stanhope hotel in Brussels.
The networking dinner was organised
- as a first step to present the fruit and vegetable processing sector,
- bring its concerns regarding the present political and legislative agenda to the attention of attending MEPs - mainly from the AGRI and ENV committees,
- allow members to make contact with deputies from their country
With 11 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) participating from Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, the event was generally well-attended and provided the contacts hoped for.
In his welcome speech, PROFEL President Jean-Bernard Bonduelle introduced the products represented by PROFEL, their strong points such as quality, freshness, nutrition, their low carbon contributions, the products' convenience and price. He pointed out the sector's close links with the farmers and the importance of locally sourced raw material, the processing industry's role for local economies and employment, its investments, and industry's commitment to sustainable agriculture and productions. He called upon MEPs to assure a level playing field between EU producers with 3rd country imports in the context of the international trade agreements, stressed the importance of the up-coming CAP reform and that it must assure continued access to sufficient sustainably produced locally grown fruit and vegetables for industry.
Mr. Rene Van der Linden, Chairman of Dutch member Association VIGEF and politician himself, addressed participants over dinner and reiterated the importance of processed products and the sector, the overall need to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and the important role that processed products play. He reminded that fruit and vegetables are considered small crops among the big agricultural commodities, but stressed that farmers can only grow fruit and vegetables for industry if they have the means and plant protection tools to do so. He called upon businesses to invest in innovation as the only way forward, and stressed the importance of personal contacts between industry and politicians as indispensible for mutual understanding.
The Parliamentary evening was a first step for PROFEL and part of its strategic re-orientation to reach out to MEPs and establish long-term contacts in the European Parliament.