Changing the EU from within

Fact or Fallacy?

It is argued, by some, that it is better for Poland to join the EU and then try to change it from within, than say ‘no’ to the current accession proposals.
But this is a dangerous argument because it makes two big assumptions. Firstly, that the bureaucracy which produces the roles and regulations in Brussels is reasonable flexible and underlyingly democratic. Secondly, that there is sufficient political will amongst the Poles and the Polish government, to mount concerted pressure for change on the new regime after having already accepted the conditions of ‘occupation’!

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Protests in Poland

On March 9th more than 20,000 farmers spontaneously gathered at the holy site of Jasna Góra in south Poland to seek refuge in prayer and to protest against the complete failure of government, farmers unions or local authorities to represent their needs and defend their struggling industry.
Over the last 2 to 3 years Polish farmers have witnessed the accelerating erosion of their markets by cheap imports the enforced closure of their local abattoirs as well as meat and milk processing plants and the imposition of a bewildering list of rules and regulations that nobody understands the need for. They have been told that all this is necessary in order for Poland to conform to EU accession planned for 2004. Coming on top of this is a relentless rise in the number of big supermarket chains – such as Tesco’s – that undermine and ultimately destroy the small shops, quality foods and time honoured village community trading patterns.

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Struggle for farmers surviving

Struggle for farmers surviving – by Ake Karlsson president of Swedish Small Farmers Organization

I will now tell you about the Swedish small farmers and their experiences of the EU-membership. But first some history about Swedish farming. In the fifties there were approximately 250.000 dairy farms. In 1995 (EU entrance) Sweden had 20.000 dairy farms and today there are only 10.000 left.
The total number of farmers 1995 were about 92.000 and today there are about 67.000.

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Proposals on how to save the European model of family farms

Proposals on how to save the European model of family farms in an enlarged Europe
– by Dr Caroline Lucas, Member of the European Parliament

(…)The case that I will make is that if enlargement is to be successful, it must be undertaken on more equitable terms, with sustainable development, rather than free trade, at its heart. The Greens in the European Parliament are making the case that the current EU enlargement strategy pushed forward by the Council and the Commission is, by and large, a simple free trade approach, which leaves the major burden of structural adjustment and the impact of economic liberalization on the candidate countries themselves.

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The rural voice must be heard

Julian Rose, part of the speech at the Polish Parliament, January 2002,

The European Commission Directorate General for Agriculture is the place where the fate of Poland’s countryside is being decided. We met the seven members of the team negotiating Poland ‘s agricultural accession to the European Union. We explained Poland ‘s unique opportunity to exploit its thousands of ecologically sensitive small farms and to hold up, as an example to Western Europe, its remarkable diversity of landscape, wildlife and wildflower habitats. We said that the traditions which have maintained these qualities needed support, if they are to be maintained. We asked that the EU would find a means of channelling available funds towards social, environmental and small business support schemes, this being the area where most benefit could be achieved.

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Speech to sejm

29 MARCH 2001

It must seem strange to some of you that I – an Englishman – am standing here calling for your support to ensure the survival of the traditional family farms of Poland. I think I owe you an explanation:

I grew up in a beautiful rural area of Southern England, surrounded by a diverse patchwork of small fields and woodlands. Wildflowers and birds seemed interwoven into this environment. Farmers, shepherds, hedgelayers, and game keepers moved to and fro in their daily agricultural rituals – and in the local village, the butcher, baker, fruiterer and publican were all stops on the daily shopping round. Many had stories to tell and knowledge to share. Children walked to school, chattering as they went, and after school they played in the long grass and the haystacks on the farms. Most farms were mixed, with around 10 cows or beef cattle, a few pigs and some hens. Life moved rather slowly, with time to appreciate the rich diversity of Nature.

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