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Moreno, with the Vice-President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, Marco Šefčovič. SUR
Junta wants EU to declare Andalucía's drought crisis a 'catastrophe' and provide aid
Drought crisis

Junta wants EU to declare Andalucía's drought crisis a 'catastrophe' and provide aid

President Juanma Moreno has warned Brussels that European food sovereignty is at stake if the region's agriculture sector is not supported

Héctor Barbotta

Brussels

Wednesday, 31 January 2024, 13:33

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On Tuesday, Juanma Moreno began his sixth visit to Brussels since he became President of the Junta de Andalucía with an urgent goal: to explain the emergency drought situation the region is experiencing.

In his first meeting, part of a three-day visit, Moreno asked the Vice-President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, Maroš Šefčovič, to implement the Solidarity Fund that the EU reserves for disaster situations.

Click here to read more about the current drought situation in Malaga province and on the Costa del Sol

Moreno said that the Andalusian government's aim is "to put water on the political and institutional agenda of the European Commission". After the hour-long meeting, the president of the Junta stressed that there is currently no water commissioner in the European institution, nor are there specific plans for the area under discussion. "I have noticed that the water issue is an unusual discourse," Moreno said.

Solidarity Fund

One of the issues raised by the president was the need to activate the Solidarity Fund in the face of the catastrophic situation caused by the drought, which has already taken 2.1 per cent of the region's Gross Domestic Product (more than 4.2 billion euros).

In order to activate this fund, which is intended for natural disasters, the request must be made by the corresponding state, and the Andalusian government will therefore ask the Minister for ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, to do so.

Moreno pointed out that this is not the first time that this fund has been activated for drought situations, and cited the examples of Cyprus and Romania, where it has already been set up. If the Andalusian proposal were accepted, he explained, the necessary hydraulic works could be carried out in a short space of time, both for human consumption and to meet the needs of the primary sector, industry and tourism. "Just as Germany needs gas for its industry, we need water," Moreno said.

Food sovereignty

The Junta believes that the European Union should not allow its food supply to depend on third countries. The message with which Juanma Moreno began his Brussels appeal yesterday, and which will be repeated over the course of the three-day visit, is that this is not a problem confined to Andalucía, since the region's agricultural production provides food for 500 million European citizens. If the Andalusian countryside does not have enough water, he argues, the EU could lose its food sovereignty and become dependent on production outside the bloc.

This year, the EU institutions are facing a strategic debate on agriculture opened by the President of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen. The Andalusian government hopes that measures to curb drought will form part of this agenda, in which the concept of food sovereignty should take precedence. During the Spanish presidency of the EU Council, which ended on 31 December 2023, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski , announced that there would be an extension of the Crisis Reserve for this year. The Junta intends for this aid to focus on drought and to take into account the situation that Andalucía has been suffering for the last five years.

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