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Background

The Informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers provides an opportunity for a strategic discussion on broad themes of importance in the agricultural sector, which serves to inform longer-term EU policies. 

Water is an essential natural resource. Hence, water issues are increasingly raised high on the agenda. Water use in agriculture is a topic which at EU level brings together both agricultural and environmental considerations. The Common Agricultural Policy supports investments to conserve water, improve irrigation infrastructures and enable farmers to improve irrigation techniques. It also helps to protect water quality through legislative instruments. 

Nowadays, we are increasingly recognizing that climate change creates certain vulnerabilities in respect of food production systems. Climate change scenarios may have different impacts across the geographic regions of Europe. Whilst positive effects may be forthcoming in Northern Europe from an overall warming effect which could translate into higher yields from an extended growing season, the reverse may be said for Southern Europe where water scarcity is anticipated to increase pressures on available water resources not least from agriculture. 

Agriculture Ministers have a strong interest in addressing these topics which affect farming and farmers profoundly, and the topic was in fact also chosen to be discussed at the high-profile international agri-environmental ‘Berlin Week’ event in January 2017.

Aim

Agriculture Ministers will get a chance to set out their policy outlook on the priorities for the EU in this sphere, which will certainly include increased role for research and innovation and knowledge sharing. By making this the topic of the Informal Agriculture Council during its Presidency term, Malta demonstrates tangibly its commitment to push forward the EU agenda on this topic which is becoming increasingly significant to our socio-economic context.

 
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