Greece, Cyprus, Italy, France, Malta, Slovenia, Portugal, Croatia and Spain were sitting around the same table on the initiative of the Greek Minister for Rural Development and Food, Lefteris Avgenakis. Their goal: to enhance their cooperation now that the climate crisis has left even the most organized countries defenseless against extreme weather phenomena.

The European officials rolled up at the downtown Brussels hotel where this first meeting was to took place well ahead of schedule and clearly keen to discuss the problems and unprecedented crises facing the primary sector, and to come up with solutions. Mr. Avgenakis welcomed them each with the gift of an olive branch.

For her part, the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources of Cyprus, the EUMED9 group chair for 2024, underlined that “the impact of climate change is severe, both on the agriculture and fisheries of the Euro-Mediterranean Member States. It is essential that we discuss our shared problems and challenges with our neighbors, so we can find common ground along with the right tools to solve them.” “We have explored various issues that will also form the subject of a joint proposal in the coming months,” Italian Minister Francesco Lollobrigida said.

As Mr. Avgenakis stressed, the participants at the meeting “advocated for an increase in the fund’s reserve to address events such as those in Thessaly. They agreed on the possibility of using 2% of CAP funding to ‘relieve’ the effects of climate change. They also agreed, overall, with some specific notes from each individual, on the creation of a new mechanism that will respond to such phenomena immediately and without delay.”

Simplifying the CAP procedures was another of the main issues discussed, with Mr. Avgenakis noting that “it is unthinkable that we should place burdensome bureaucratic requirements and additional stress on farmers at a time when we should be doing everything in our power to increase the absorption of funding.”

Finally, Mr. Avgenakis referred to the mobilizations of farmers, stressing that efforts must be made at both the national and European level.

“We will insist that an effort needs to be made at two levels, the national and the European. As a member state, Greece must continue to insist on European solidarity among member states.” He added that “the reconstruction of the plain of Thessaly is not a matter of a few weeks, it is a major effort. But one we will support through to completion. The Prime Minister has said we will.”