Decisions taken in the corridors of power at the head of the European Union (EU) in Brussels have a direct impact on businesses in the UK, a fact that is as relevant to the beef and lamb industry as it is to any other.
To make sure producers here in the UK are well-informed about the latest developments in Brussels, the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) has a team based there. For this week’s blog, we spoke to them about the work they do, and the way it influences the industry at home.
|The AHDB Brussels team - Kathy Roussel, Claudine Collin & Audrey Moulierac|
“The role of the Brussels office is to act as an interface between the EU and the UK industry,” explained Kathy Roussel, head of the team in Belgium. “We liaise with EU organisations on one hand, and Defra and AHDB representatives on the other.”
EU policy advisor Audrey Moulierac outlined in more detail exactly how this is done: “We collect, analyse and disseminate information on EU issues to help businesses that will be affected to stay both competitive and compliant with legislation.”
So how and why are decisions made at the EU? The key to understanding the complex set-up in Europe is to understand the structure of the organisations involved. There are three main bodies,:
- European Parliament (represents the EU’s citizens and is directly elected by them)
- Council of the EU (represents the governments of the individual member countries)
- European Commission (drafts proposals and acts as a civil service)
A good example of the Brussels team's work is the €7.7 million (£6.17m) European lamb promotion programme, which was announced last year.
Kathy explained: “It’s a co-funded programme which will see the EU provide 50% of the funding for a campaign that will target six different EU countries and highlight the high quality of lamb as a practical food choice for young consumers.
“Until 2013 it wasn’t possible to get access to EU funds to promote lamb. But through persistent dialogue between the AHDB Brussels team and the Commission, we highlighted the challenges faced by the lamb industry and changed that situation.
“As soon as the legislation was amended we put an application together with France and Ireland, which was accepted and will go live this year.”
The project is a huge boost for the industry and aims to significantly increase demand for lamb.
Audrey summed up neatly the importance of the work done by AHDB in Brussels when she said in the interview with her for this blog: “We need to make sure that the industry stays well informed on developments that will impact on them”.