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Active and healthy ageing, Agropastoralism, African swine fever and the EU pork market: The CoR’s dynamic role in agriculture and public health  
Members of the European Committee of the Regions' Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) met in Brussels for the 24rd NAT commission meeting. The commission maintained that ageing is a hidden opportunity, African swine fever (ASF) is a threat and a challenge at local, regional, national and European levels and that maintaining pastoralism is crucial for agriculture throughout the EU. Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE), chair of the NAT commission, led the meeting.


During the NAT meeting, members adopted the draft opinion by rapporteur Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP) onActive and healthy ageing. The member from Dalarna County Council, said: "Ageing is a challenge, not only at European level, but especially at local and regional level. Healthy ageing means living exactly the way someone wants to live. Prevention is a very important point here. The younger generation, but also we as politicians, bear responsibility for those who get older. Digital tools can make life easier for the older generation. That is why it is important to work with industry, the silver economy."

 On 1 January 2017, the EU-28 had an estimated population of 511.5 million and its old age dependency ratio was 29.9%. The opinion draws attention to the growing need for social and health care for an ageing European population. The European Committee of the Regions suggests that innovation in assistive technologies, e-health and digitisation and age appropriate frameworks needs to be improved to ensure active and healthy ageing in different regions. Aging is seen as a hidden opportunity and measures in the framework of the European Silver Economy Strategy are supported. NAT members call for financial support from Horizon Europe for the silver economy. Local and regional authorities play a pivotal role in designing and scaling up innovations that make life easier for older people. 

Members adopted the draft opinion on Pastoralism. Rapporteur Jacques Blanc (FR/EPP), mayor of La Canourgue, said: "Pastoralism refers to subsistence-oriented, traditional forms of economy in which agriculture and pastoralism are combined. Pastoralism is important for local and regional authorities as it encourages tourism and acts as an indicator for the fight against natural disasters such as forest fires or avalanches. Therefore, it is particularly important for the Committee of the Regions to draw up a plan to protect agropastoralism. However, agropastoralism is threatened, especially, by the difficulty of passing on knowledge and the threat of carnivores to herds. Pastoralism must therefore be protected and supported by the European Union through the European Structural Funds."

For the CoR, pastoralism is vital for farming across the EU in order to keep rural areas alive, and so to meet the Lisbon Treaty objective of territorial cohesion and environmental and climate-related objectives. The CoR calls for the integrated management of agricultural and pastoral land to be supported at local level. The survival of pastoralism is threatened by a number of difficulties: the economic context, competition for land, difficulties in transferring know-how, environmental restrictions on the organisation of grazing, competition with other pastoralists, particularly for leisure purposes, and finally the threat to animals from large carnivores.  The NAT members propose that the biodiversity strategy be based on a new specific species protection fund. The fund should cover compensation for damage caused by large carnivores, the costs of which are rising sharply, and protection of animals at a time when the budget is being significantly reduced. 

Members also adopted the draft opinion on African swine fever and the EU pork market. Rapporteur Sławomir Sosnowski (PL/EPP) from the Lubelskie Regional Assembly, said: "ASF is a problem that cannot be tackled because there is no vaccination for it. The Committee of the Regions cannot ignore that. We have to realise that ASF is a problem for the whole of the EU, including the economy and trade. The consequences must be mitigated. We must do what we can to find a vaccination against ASF. We must step up international cooperation on the issue and call for financial support."

The CoR notes that African swine fever (ASF) is a threat and a challenge at local, regional, national and European levels to which it must respond. In view of the major problems posed by the ASF virus, the members of the CoR wish to voice their concerns on the issue and call on all stakeholders to combat this very dangerous virus through even closer cooperation.

The three opinions are scheduled to be adopted at the CoR's plenary session on 8-9 October 2019.
The next NAT meeting will take place on 16 September 2019 in Brussels.

Photos from the 24rd NAT commission meeting and conference are available here.​

Denise Schmidt
Tel. +32 2 282 2273

Wioletta Wojewódzka 
Tel. +32 2 282 22 89





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