In December, President Juncker announced a roadmap for designing the CAP of the future. During my visit to International Green Week in Berlin, I was pleased to announce that a public consultation feeding into this roadmap will be launched on February 2nd. I look forward to receiving strong submissions from across the agri-food and rural communities.
Late 2016 saw important progress made on a number of fronts. Our agri-food exports continued to show strong growth; further work was done to transform the Cork 2.0 Declaration "A Better Life for Rural Areas" into reality; we made real headway on building a fairer food chain; and there was a growing consensus about the need to find better ways for agriculture to become more sustainable and efficient.
My team and I have hit the ground running in 2017 as we look to make the most of this momentum and continue moving forward. In recent days I discussed with MEPs some ideas to strengthen the position of farmers in our food chain. It is clear that we must make progress in this area.
This week, there was further good news on the trade front. New statistics showed that the monthly value of EU agri-food exports in November 2016 reached a new record level of EUR 11.7 billion. This is EUR 813 million higher than November 2015, and about EUR 1.5 billion higher than in the same month of previous years. As I have said on numerous occasions, expanding the export opportunities for European producers will make them stronger and more resilient.
I am in Berlin until Sunday evening to attend International Green Week. This is my third visit as Commissioner to this hugely important event. Green Week is a unique fair which serves multiple purposes:
It generates a huge interest for trade visitors, with over 1,500 exhibitors showcasing more than 100,000 products from all over the world;
But above all, Green Week inspires huge engagement with citizens. This engagement is essential in order to discuss how our farmers and rural communities meet the challenges ahead. This is what we are here for: to serve EU citizens. We need to engage with as many people as possible - particularly our urban citizens - to discuss how to empower our farmers and rural communities for the challenges ahead.
I will participate in a panel discussing how to build a sustainable future for Europe's rural areas. This is another follow-up event to the Cork 2.0 Conference of 2016, and I look forward to hearing good ideas as to how we can help rural areas unlock their full potential.
The question of water and food security will also feature prominently in a number of debates, including under the auspices of the Global Forum for Agriculture and G20.
Developing smart water policy is a defining challenge of this century. Water is a scarce resource and we have to join forces in order to protect and enhance this precious good. Finally, I look forward to visiting the European Commission "from farm to fork" stand, which showcases the added value of the European Union in providing citizens with safe, sustainable and quality food.
Opening speech at Green Week Berlin
European Commission stand at Green Week Berlin