As the proposal for a new eco-regulation in the EU could not be stopped, there were two alternatives. Either we vote no in protest and stand outside the negotiations, or we work hard to improve an otherwise bad proposal as far as possible.
It writes Minister of Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht (S) in a reply.
I understand the reaction we are seeing from the eco-sector around the EU's new eco-regulation. The new eco-regulation contains few improvements, but causes several problems for the eco-industry in Sweden. How then can Sweden vote yes to something that the government basically considers to be deeply problematic?
What is not clear from the debate article is that Sweden, together with other countries before the final negotiations, was prepared to stop the eco-regulation by trying to create a blocking minority. That is, get enough countries to vote against the proposal. However, this was never possible as the view of what is organic differs very sharply within the EU and the majority of countries have a different view than Sweden.
Based on the fact that the proposal could not be stopped there were two options. Either we vote no in protest and stand outside the negotiations, or we work hard to improve an otherwise bad proposal as far as possible. Regardless of how we do it, the new regulation will apply to Sweden and to all other countries in the EU. The rules will thus be exactly the same for countries that voted yes and those that voted no.
The fact that Sweden chose to continue negotiating and pushing for the proposal to be better from a Swedish perspective meant that we were able to improve the proposal on two important points. Sweden, and the rest of the EU, faced the risk that dehorning would be banned, which would be a tough proposal against Swedish organic milk as 90 percent of Swedish organic farmers dehorn their cows. A ban was imminent, at the end of the hearing only Sweden and another smaller country pursued the issue. Thanks to the fact that we chose negotiations in front of the stands, we got a continued exception. In addition, we also received a 10-year extended exemption for cultivation in raised beds.
I fully understand that one can ask whether Sweden did the right thing in negotiating when it became clear that we could not block the new eco-regulation. In the same way that one can think about what would have happened if more countries, which in many parts have similar views on echoes as Sweden, had also chosen to compromise to improve the proposal. Had we then had an ordinance that was even better from a Swedish and Nordic perspective?
No final decision has been made yet, but we believe that the probability of getting enough people to vote to stop the proposal is very small, but would be as happy as the eco-sector if it went.
It is important to remember that if the Eco-Regulation is adopted, new negotiations will take place in the EU in the current implementation and concretisation of the new regulation. Sweden must continue to be active and proactive in close dialogue with the eco-sector for as good an end result as possible.
Sven-Erik Bucht (S)
Minister of Rural Affairs
Published in SvD 2017-10-23