Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas attended a meeting of EU Environment Ministers on April 14-15 in Riga, on the invitation of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Ministers discussed current issues relating to the preservation of biological diversity, especially including the taking into account of biodiversity factors within the various sectors. On the side-lines of the meeting, Minister Fazekas continued his high-level talks in the interests of his GMO-free Europe initiative.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, which is aimed at stopping the reduction of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services, was adopted in 2011 during the Hungarian EU Presidency. Coming up to the halfway stage of the process, the Ministers agreed that there was still much to be done despite the results achieved. There is a need for the more precise mapping and assessment of the positive economic effects of natural systems and the efforts made for their preservation, for instance with relation to job creation and the resources provided by nature. This requires the EU monitoring, mapping and economic assessment of ecosystems and their services in accordance with the Strategy’s objectives.

Also important is the assessment and tracking of both the direct and indirect job creation effects of efforts aimed at preserving environmental treasures, including the development of the required common methodology. The increased use of renewable energy sources should occur in harmony with biodiversity goals and while preserving the resistance capabilities of natural systems.

With regard to environmental politics, Hungary has also developed its national Natura 2000 action plan. The sector received its own priority axis within the Environment and Energy Efficiency Operational Programme for the period 2014-2020, enabling the continuation of environmental development projects begun in previous years, including direct habitat development and management programmes and projects aimed at presenting natural treasures to the public.

Preserving GMO-free status is important in Hungary and throughout Europe in the interests of preserving biodiversity and protecting traditional species. This objective, which is set down in Hungary’s constitution, was put forward at a European level by Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas at the Berlin Green Week agriculture fair in February, at which Mr. Fazekas held several bilateral talks to gain support for the initiative. With relation to the Hungarian initiative to achieve a GMO-free Europe, German Federal Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendricks indicated that the plan would be given suitable emphasis and that the German standpoint on the issue was under development. She said the fact that the new EU legislation allowing member states to ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms had been recently adopted in Brussels, an achievement in which both countries had been heavily involved, was a significant German-Hungarian success. Minister Hendricks also said that Germany was open to discussing the issue with Hungarian experts and is prepared to cooperate on developing both the details of realisation and the required legislative solutions. The Environment Ministers of Poland and Slovenia welcomed the Hungarian endeavour and indicated that, in harmony with the Hungarian initiative, they would not be authorising the cultivation of any kind of genetically modified organism and are ready to work together with Hungary to achieve the success of the initiative at European level.

(Ministry of Agriculture)