Sustainable societies – main focus of the NAT commission

The issues the CoR's Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) is working on this year include preventing the harmful use of alcohol, the importance of young farmers in rural areas, cooperation between regional healthcare systems and the implementation of the Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction signed with the UNISDR. The NAT commission will meet on 28 November in Brussels. Following is a summary of the topics that will be discussed during this meeting.

  • EU alcohol strategy. The NAT commission will adopt Ewa-May Karlsson's (SE/ALDE) draft opinion on "The need for and way towards an EU strategy on alcohol-related issues". The aim of the draft opinion is to raise awareness about the current burden of alcohol in Europe, to look at the latest developments in Europe and explore ways in which cost-effective alcohol policies can contribute to sustainable healthcare system savings. The rapporteur highlights the importance of giving local and regional authorities the opportunity to contribute their experience and knowledge, as they have influence over and the best knowledge of the requirements and conditions for preventing the harmful use of alcohol and limiting its negative effects on society. By endorsing the support for a new EU alcohol strategy, the CoR would be joining the call from both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for strong political leadership on this issue.

  • Young European farmers. Members will vote on Arnold Hatch's (UK/ECR) draft opinion on Supporting young European farmers. The rapporteur considers that the shortage of young people pursuing careers in farming is jeopardising the economic and social sustainability of rural areas. The challenges facing rural areas – limited or difficult access to transport; poor communication and broadband coverage; education, cultural, social or health services – compound this problem. CoR members call for support for young farmers as a prerequisite for preserving agriculture across the EU and for keeping rural areas alive, in order to meet the territorial cohesion objective enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon. The NAT commission will pursue this important issue related to the long-term sustainability of European farms, including by working closely with the EP's AGRI Committee and in relation to its report on "State of play of farmland concentration in the EU: how to facilitate the access to land for farmers".  

  • NAT thematic debate: Members will participate in a discussion on "Regional healthcare systems: performance, integration and cooperation" . Contributions will include speeches from Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP), the newly appointed rapporteur for health, Martin Seychell, Deputy Director-General for Health at the European Commission andGaétan Lafortune, Senior Economist, Health Division, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD .

    The discussion will focus on how the EU should support the Member States and their local and regional authorities in their efforts to improve public health and develop healthcare and how cross-border cooperation can help to develop European health systems.  

  • An exchange of views on food policy will take place. Arno Kompatscher's (IT/EPP) proposal on Towards a sustainable EU food policy aims to address the issue of food production in a more comprehensive way, promoting more sustainable food production and consumption patterns and calling for a link between food policy and other policies including agriculture, environment, health and consumer policy, employment and rural development. This opinion puts forward initiatives and measures that will support EU food policy from a local and regional perspective.

  • An exchange of views on Adam Banaszak's (PL/ECR) draft opinion on the Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 will take place. On 13 October, the CoR and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) signed a five-year Action Plan to support EU cities and regions in taking more concerted action to reduce the impact of natural disasters. The Action Plan, which was signed on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, seeks to translate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 into ideas for local and regional governments. The draft opinion stresses that consideration should be given to the possibility of supporting the development and promotion of local platforms on disaster risk reduction, as well as similar platforms at national level.

    Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 A disaster risk-informed approach for all EU policies  

  • Rapporteur appointments :

    Christophe Clergeau (FR/PES) "A new stage in the European policy on blue growth".  

  • On 29 November 2016, the European Commission will host the first meeting of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste as part of the EU Action Plan to promote the Circular Economy, at the CoR premises. The CoR will be attending as a member of the platform, represented by Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE), the CoR rapporteur on Food Waste.

  • On 29 November 2016, the first joint conference will take place between the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and the European Committee of the Regions' NAT commission. During the meeting, the CoR will reiterate the urgent need to draw up the White Paper on Rurality.

The next NAT meeting will take place on 2 February 2017.