Land rush in Europe comparable with Africa, Asia and Latin America, argues new report

Darren mail at
Fri Apr 19 09:29:48 BST 2013

Report from ECVC and TNI on land concentration and land grab in Europe:

*Land concentration and land grabbing are occurring and reaching blatant 
levels in Europe
*17 April 2013

Land concentration and land grabbing do not occur only in developing 
countries in the South; in fact, both are underway in Europe today. A 
new report by European Coordination Via Campesina and Hands off the Land 
network shows that land grabbing and access to land are a critical 
issues today in Europe, and also reveals that the Common Agricultural 
Policy (CAP) subsidy scheme and other policies is implicated in a 
variety of ways.

The report, involving 25 authors from 11 countries and titled Land 
concentration, land grabbing and people's struggles in Europe, reveals 
the hidden scandal of how just three per cent of landowners have come to 
control half of all farmed land. This massive concentration of land 
ownership and wealth is on a par with Brazil, Colombia and Philippines.

Some of these processes of ever-increasing land concentration are not 
new; however they have accelerated in recent decades in particular in 
Eastern Europe. Many feature European companies, as well as new actors 
including Chinese companies and Middle Eastern Hedge Funds, tied into an 
increasingly global commodity chains, and all looking to profit from the 
increasingly speculative commodity of land.

The report features in-depth case studies on strong land concentration 
trends in Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Austria. It also features 
various forms of land grabbing in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and 
Ukraine. Just like their counterparts in Ethiopia, Cambodia or Paraguay, 
many of these large-scale land deals are being carried out in a 
secretive, non-transparent manner.

The report reveals that one of the drivers of this European land grab 
and land concentration is the subsidies paid under the Common 
Agricultural Policy, which explicitly favours large land holdings, 
marginalises small farms, and blocks entry by prospective farmers. In 
Spain, for example, in 2009, 75 percent of the subsidies were cornered 
by only 16 percent of the largest producers. Other drivers for land 
grabs have come from the extractive industry, urban sprawl, real estate 
interests, tourism enclaves, and other commercial undertakings.

Prof. Dr. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg of Wageningen University, a member of 
the research team, says: "This is an unprecedented dynamic of land 
concentration and creeping land grabbing. It has worsened the existing 
situation where many young people want to stay in or take up farming but 
cannot maintain or gain access to land. This was already a serious issue 
before, but has become worse. The current and planned CAP subsidy 
schemes are likely to solidify the barrier to more democratic access to 
land and entry to farming by young people. Access to land is a basic 
condition to achieve food sovereignty in Europe. Indeed, the three most 
pressing land issues in Europe today are land concentration, land 
grabbing, and inability of young people to maintain or gain access to 
land to enter sustainable farming -- interlinked, triangular land issues 
quite similar to the ones we see in Africa, Latin America and Asia today."

The report however shows that land concentration and land grabbing are 
not going unopposed, but instead inspiring a massive wave of resistance. 
Land grabbing and access to land are a central theme of this years 
celebration of the international day of peasant struggles. The study 
includes the case of the community of Narbolia, Sardinia mobilising 
against the use of prime agricultural land for massive solar greenhouse 
projects, and the case of opposition to the Notre Dames des Landes 
airport project in Nantes in France.

There are also growing cases of communities occupying land, mirroring 
actions by many social movements in the global South. The report 
highlights the case of SOC in Andalusia, where landless peasant farmers 
are collectively occupying land and cultivating it using agroecological 
farming techniques, and SoLiLA in Vienna where young people are coming 
together to "squat" fertile urban land for community supported 
agriculture and city food gardening thereby preventing it being 
converted for use by urban commercial projects.

Jeanne Verlinden of the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) says 
the study shows clearly that: "Land needs to be seen again as a public 
good. We must reduce the commodification of land and instead promote 
public management of this common resource on which we all depend. 
Priority should be given to the use of land for smallholder and peasant 
agriculture and food production, rather than handing over land to those 
private property commercial interests who seek land for speculation and 
ever increasing concentration of wealth. Access to land should be given 
to those who work it."

For more info contact:
ECVC: Jeanne Verlinden: +32497605884
TNI: hildevanderpas at ;+31 20 6626608
ISS: Jun Borras

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