The ECR Group is centre-right and euro-realist.​
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ECR Member Adam Banaszak voices local and regional authority concerns on natural disasters<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/AHB.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/ECR-Member-Adam-Banaszak-voices-local-and-regional-authority-concerns-on-natural-disasters.aspx2018-03-04T23:00:00ZECR Member Adam Banaszak voices local and regional authority concerns on natural disasters<p>​<strong>Mr Adam Banaszak represented the local and regional government within the EU Member States at the European Civil Protection Forum, the largest European conference on civil protection organised by the European Commission.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking on behalf of the Committee of the Regions in the light of his rapporteurship on the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, Mr Banaszak said: "Approximately 95% of first responses to disasters are led by local people. That is why a localist approach is key for increasing resilience. For our societies to be more resilient, we need to better involve local and regional authorities in planning of risk preparedness. As we are the level closest to the people and we know our areas best, we know what works on the ground". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Adam Banaszak spoke at the 2018 Civil Protection Forum organised on March 5, which brought together more than 400 representatives from the civil protection and disaster risk management communities, including governments, European Union institutions, United Nations agencies, academia, and other stakeholders to share experiences and discuss ways of strengthening the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In his speech the ECR Member called on EU and national decision-makers to better involve local and regional authorities in planning of risk preparedness and to encourage the voluntary and community sector to plan for self-help. As the Vice-President of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Regional Assembly in Poland, Mr Banaszak mentioned the 2017 storms in his region which caused the death of six people and damage to thousands of homes. He said that the involvement of volunteers and the community sector, who in many cases supported self-help, had been crucial in this particular case. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The recommendations drafted by Mr Banaszak in the CoR will be voted by local and regional authorities during the May plenary session.</p>
Two ECR CoR Members elected to the Italian Parliament<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/Giuramento_Mattarella_Montecitorio.jpg" width="635" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Two-ECR-CoR-Members-elected-to-the-Italian-Parliament.aspx2018-03-03T23:00:00ZTwo ECR CoR Members elected to the Italian Parliament<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>Two ECR Group Members in the European Committee of the Regions, Matteo Bianchi and Carlo Fidanza, were elected Members of the Italian Parliament in the general elections held on 4 March 2018.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Italy went to the polls to choose over 900 members of its two houses of parliament. The centre-right alliance <font size="3">won the highest number of seats. Two ECR CoR Group Members became Members of the lower house of the chamber of deputies: Mr Matteo Bianchi from <em>Lega</em>, and Mr Carlo Fidanza from Fratelli d'Italia. Congratulazioni ai nostri membri italiani!</font></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Picture: By Presidenza della Repubblica</p>
Organic farming in Groningen is expanding. Henk Staghouwer has given the sector a push in the right direction.<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/28.%20Henk.jpg" width="616" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Organic-farming-in-Groningen-is-expanding.-.aspx2018-03-01T23:00:00ZOrganic farming in Groningen is expanding. Henk Staghouwer has given the sector a push in the right direction.<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>When he was re-elected as member of the provincial executive with responsibility for agriculture three years ago, provincial representative Henk Staghouwer (Member of the Executive Council of the Province of Groningen, The Netherlands) set himself the task of giving organic farming a push in the right direction. Two years after the province launched its programme, it is bearing fruit. Ten farms are currently making the transition from conventional to organic farming. 400 hectares of land are being converted. This will increase the land area used for organic farming by around 10% compared with 2016.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Henk Staghouwer: "I had noticed that the sector was looking for other ways of earning a living. After the war, the aim was simply to produce as much food as possible. But over the last ten years people have begun to ask questions about agriculture: about large-scale farming, soil exhaustion, the use of artificial fertilisers and plant protection products, food safety etc. This was what motivated me to take a different approach to agriculture. With my background as an entrepreneur, I also saw the potential of organic farming. The global market for organic products is growing by 12 to 13% per year. And I thought: This must be an opportunity for Groningen".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">A visit in February 2017 to the world's largest organic produce trade fair, Biofach in Nuremberg, confirmed him in his belief. "In the past the organic sector perhaps tended to think too idealistically and not enough in entrepreneurial terms. But there I realised that it is now a grown-up sector. It is not all sandals and nut cutlets - it is actually a hard-headed business."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The province hired agricultural advisers to lead the project on the ground. Mr Staghouwer said: "At the beginning, the idea was to raise awareness. Farmers were very receptive. Five or ten years ago things might have been different. But they themselves know very well that something has to change. After three information evenings there were already 120 expressions of interest. This was followed up with 40 visits to interested farmers.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Currently, there are five study groups (three on arable farming and two on dairy farming), where farmers exchange information and experience. They can also call in experts.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Staghouwer: "The aim is to provide them with information that they did not get at agricultural college or training centre. There it is mostly about production, production and more production. For most farmers it is about a new way of working."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mr Staghouwer does not want to predict where the project will ultimately lead. There are now contacts with organic farmers, producers and processors on the German side of the border, aimed at establishing a single area for cultivation and sales. One idea, for example, is to set up a joint organic dairy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"I don't have the funds available to finance any plans of this kind that may emerge. But I would welcome them. The time has gone when you could simply send your harvest off to market somewhere and move on. Consumers want to know where their food comes from. And so it is a good thing if you can sell your products in your own area. If we set up our own circuit, we will do just fine."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He hopes that the rise of organic farming will also influence farmers using conventional methods, inter alia, by drawing attention to the kind of natural farming methods that Groningen also wants to promote. "Of course, it would be a good thing if conventional agriculture also reduced the amount of plant protection products it uses."</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Henk Staghouwer is a Member of the ECR Group in the European Committee of the Regions, where he participates in the work of the Committee on Natural Resources (NAT). He was the ECR Group Shadow Rapporteur on the CoR opinion on "the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020". </em></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>The article above was written by John Geijp and originally published in Dagblad van het Noorden on 18 February 2018. The full article can be read online (in Dutch) at </em><a href="http://www.dvhn.nl/"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration:underline;"><em>www.dvhn.nl</em></span></a><em>.</em></p>
The EU supports organic production in Rypin<img alt="" src="/ecr/news/PublishingImages/29.%20Targowisko.jpg" width="680" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />http://web.cor.europa.eu/ecr/news/Pages/Organic-production-in-Rypin.aspx2018-02-27T23:00:00ZThe EU supports organic production in Rypin<p style="text-align:justify;">​<strong>In 2018, the Polish town of Rypin (Kujawsko-Pomorskie region) – the Mayor of which is ECR Group Member Paweł Grzybowski – will modernise its market facilities. It has acquired almost PLN 1 million (EUR 250 000) of EU Funds for this purpose under the rural development programme. </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Improving our market will enable our agri-food producers to attract new customers and will give them better working conditions. The direct sale of goods means stronger local business, and enables consumers to buy higher-quality products. It is precisely in areas like this – promoting healthy food and local economies – that we count on assistance from the European Union, and we are glad that we have managed to receive it," said Mr Grzybowski.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The total investment amounts to PLN 1.5 million (EUR 375 000). The renovation will put a canopy over part of the marketplace. Three trading aisles will be created. Over half of the site will be occupied by market stalls with agricultural and horticultural products from local suppliers. Six percent of the entire trading area will be set aside for the sale of organic agri-food products (in line with EU standards on organic production and the labelling of products). </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The whole area will be drained, and the administration will get a new building. Some of the stalls will be equipped with prefabricated concrete tables to make it easier to display their products. According to the project timetable, work will start in March and will finish in October.</p>

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