EDA represents and protects the interests of the European dairy industry in the face of various stakeholders: the European Commission, Parliament and Council of Ministers, the Economic and Social Committee, the international authorities of the Codex Alimentarius and the WTO. Its missions encompass both the development of nutrition and health policies, food safety and sustainable development and market management within the framework of the EU common agricultural policy. EDA President Michel Nalet confirms the dynamic nature of the dairy industry, at the same time reminding us of the challenges it faces.
Agriculture Internationale - Where is EDA currently concentrating its efforts and what means and prerogatives do you possess to maintain interest in the dairy industry amongst the institutions you deal with?
Michel Nalet - The next few years will be crucial for the European dairy industry. As a sector, we must prepare ourselves for the suppression of milk quotas in 2015, whilst not losing sight of the impact the implementation of the Milk Package will have in various European countries. We must ensure that the dairy industry in the European Union remains economically viable in the face of these two upcoming challenges.
The CAP 2020 is another major development that merits our full attention. EDA's main objective in this debate is to ensure that the decision-makers do not stray from the idea of the single market. This is why EDA has given a positive reception to the recent political agreement on the reform of the CAP and in particular its more market-oriented approach.
Moreover, EDA continues to maintain as one of its main objectives, the task of informing European decision-makers of the nutritional aspects of milk and milk products, emphasising that milk was, is, and always will be an essential element in a healthy, balanced diet. EDA is pursuing its interaction with the political and institutional institutions in Brussels both at European and national level.
A.I. - To combat the fall in the consumption of milk, in 2011, seven European countries created the European Milk Forum (EMF) to inform the public of the benefits of milk and milk products. Two years later, have you noticed an improvement in the situation?
M.N. - The EMF began promoting milk and milk products two years ago as you say. In 2012, it launched its multi-stakeholders information campaign and recently, a ‘Milk, Nutritious By Nature’ campaign directed at consumers. Although first results seem promising, it is still too early to draw any conclusions on the positive impact of the EMF's multi-stakeholder and consumer campaigns.
A.I. - Which channels - or type of development – do you think we must favour in order to optimise the image and presence of milk products?
M.N. - EDA considers it important to follow and give firm support to global research into the relevant nutritional aspects and positive impact of milk products on a healthy and balanced lifestyle. EDA privileges moreover, all activities and initiatives that seek to make the dairy industry more sustainable. In this sense, it supports all efforts that seek to reduce the environmental impact of stock-rearing and milk production. We think that the image of dairy products can be improved still further by highlighting its high nutritional value and the fact that high-quality dairy products are produced in a responsible and sustainable manner.
A.I. - Does not the decision of certain member countries to make their milk provision contracts more flexible or to suppress such and such a clause in them carry the risk of encouraging certain competitive distortions within the very heart of the European industry?
M.N. - The fact that the management and structures of contracts is now under the responsibility of the national authorities constitutes a real danger with regard to competition between the member States. EDA is concerned by the differences in contracts that may emerge and which may result in a different, fragmented type of competition between the member States.
A.I. - What, in your opinion, will be the effects of the programmed suppression of milk quotas and their substitution by market regulation on available volumes, competitiveness, and the diversification of production?
M.N. - EDA will continue to represent and defend the interests of all its members through the quota suppression phase. We cannot deny that certain countries will have more problems with this development than others, but we can say that on the whole, the move has been widely accepted in all the countries as a result of the effective exchange of information between the different countries under the coordination of EDA. Alongside the move to a non-quota environment, we are expecting a growth in world demand for milk products. That said, EDA considers that increases in milk production in the EU will be limited.
A.I. - Do you think that all the players in the industry - as well as its industrial tool - are now prepared to face this challenge in an effective manner?
M.N. - Yes. EDA is convinced that the abolition of quotas will lead to a better development of the dairy industry overall. We believe that new opportunities will present themselves and that the European dairy industry will be able to react better to the demand for new types of dairy products in the EU. The suppression of quotas should lead to a stronger position for the EU's.