The ELO believes strongly that only continuous innovation in the agricultural sector can deliver the results needed for Europe’s land managers; a flourishing farm business at a time of unstable commodity and energy prices, better results for our ecosystems, and plenty of safe food for Europe’s demanding consumers. To meet these challenges, the modern farm business should not just embrace the latest tools and technologies, but also work out his or her own innovate practices. This quest, therefore, does not just take place in the laboratories of agricultural industries, but very much in the fields of our members.
Over the last few years, the EU has shown increased support to integrate the concept of innovation into European policy. In 2013, the European Commission set up the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) which is acting “across the whole research and innovation chain, bringing together all relevant actors at EU, national and regional levels”. This is in addition to the Horizon 2020 programme, which is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. The ELO is currently involved in multiple H2020 projects.
In 2016, the ELO continued to push for more and better access to agricultural innovation. One of the main sticking points remains the non-appearance of the EC’s legal opinion whether or not a new generation of plant breeding techniques will be classified as GM technology, and thus subject to much stricter, even prohibitive, regulation. The ELO believes that, whatever the opinion should state, this should be published as soon as possible in order to create clarity.
2017 will (hopefully) see the release of the abovementioned legal opinion, along with the implementation of the Circular Economy Package, including new measures on (drinking) water and re-cycling and re-use. We can also expect to see new drives towards innovation regarding the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the delivery of the Paris Climate Summit.