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Low carbon agriculture, Health Data Space and pesticides on the agenda of the CoR NAT meeting  

​The European Committee of the Regions' commission for Natural Resources (NAT) met on 22 November to discuss and adopt opinions on "Regional adaptation strategies for low carbon agriculture" drafted by Loïg Chesnais/Girard (FR/PES) – President of the Brittany Region and on "the European Health Data Space" led by Daniela Cimpean (RO/EPP) – President of Sibiu County Council. They also exchanged views on "Sustainable use of pesticides" – rapporteur Heinz-Joachim Höfer (DE/PES).

​"The multiple crises we are facing show that instead of lowering our ambitions, we need to put even more efforts into sustainable development", said Isilda Maria Prazeres Gomes, Mayor of Portimão – Portugal - and Chair o​f the NAT commission, stressing how: "From health to agriculture, from tourism to civil protection, the NAT commission has an important role in making concrete proposals that can strengthen the resilience of Europe's many and diverse local communities."

​​In December 2021, the Commission published the communication on carbon cycles, which represents the first step towards implementing an EU framework for the certification of carbon removal. In the draft opinion on "Regional adaptation strategies for low carbon agriculture", Europe's local and regional authorities underline the vital role of regions and cities in delivering the Green Deal on the ground and thus achieving the 2050 carbon neutrality target. Regions are directly involved in the development and implementation of CAP strategic plans in many Member States, and will contribute to encourage sustainable practices that reduce GHG emissions in agriculture. In light of their commitment on the ground, local and regional authorities demand to be fully involved in the discussion on the introduction of an EU certification for carbon farming.

CoR rapporteur Loïg Chesnais-Girard​ (FR/PES) said: "When it comes to agriculture, the new European certification should take a systemic approach, that considers the whole farm, looks at all greenhouse gas emissions and not only CO2, and integrates a strong social, environmental and economic dimension, without hampering food security at EU level. Local and regional authorities should therefore be at the heart of the certification’s governance, to support the development of projects tailored to local needs and in line with regional climate strategies".

The draft opinion is to be adopted during the plenary session on in February 2023.

In the draft opinion on the "Regulation on the European Health Data Space", NAT members support the Commission's proposals for a European Health Data Area (EHDS), and stress that healthcare services should be able to benefit from such an infrastructure, while ensuring the full protection of patients' privacy and data rights.

Daniela CÎMPEAN (RO/EPP), rapporteur of the opinion, said: "The principle of subsidiarity in health allows for the provision of high quality information on service use and allows health policy experts and researchers to identify gaps between regions/member states on specific public health indicators, enabling the development of health policies and programmes tailored to local needs. It is important to emphasise the enormous benefits of the EHDS for EU citizens and public health in relation to the difficulties and risks identified, without overlooking these risks or treating them superficially of course." Her draft opinion is to be adopted during the plenary session on 8-9 February 2023.

In the first exchange on the opinion led by Heinz-Joachim Höfer (DE/PES) a Sustainable use of pesticides was discussed in the context of the European Green Deal and of the Farm to Fork strategy. Members stressed that new rules should focus more on pesticides' toxicity than on their quantity. They also stressed the need for a better definition of "sensitive areas".

Finally, NAT members took stock of the implementation of the EU Bio-economy strategy at regional level.

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