Land rush in Europe comparable with Africa, Asia and Latin America, argues new report
mail at vegburner.co.uk
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 tni.org ;+31 20 6626608
ISS: Jun Borras
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