b'BRUSSELS SPROUTSBY: CESAR GONZALEZIS AN OPEN STRATEGIC AUTONOMY THE RIGHT WAY TO GO FOR EUROPE?W ith the European Parliament elections ad portas, the European Commission is trying to end, as peacefully as possible, the current mandate and does not want to propose new legisla-tive initiatives included in the Farm to Fork strategy, like the flagship Framework law for Sustainable Food Systems.In this context, President Ursula von der Leyen announced the start of a stra-tegic dialogue on the future of agriculture in January 2024 as a way to push the brake until a new Parliament, with a new com-position and a different balance of power according to the early polls, and a new Commission with a new cabinet and new priorities, are in place.And what do we know so far about the priorities for the next mandate? What impact will these have on the plant breed-ing and seed sector? How will the political landscape look like at the end of 2024?At this point in time, it is extremely difficult to say. According to the current projections, it looks like there will be aalone as a global player and to work withcurement). This cannot be the way forward.higher representation (both in the Councilothers depending on values, capabilities, orLets not forget that the EU remains and in the Parliament) of conservatives andinterests. the largest agri-food trading block world-far-right parties at the expenses of the liber- Capabilities and interests are normallywide, and concretely for seeds, the EU is als and the greens. In practice, this suggestseasier to quantify or assess, and therefore,the largest exporter of seeds and is the to me that the national debates will becomecan be a useful tool in our relations withleading region for some breeding market more relevant at European level, making itother countries. But values are not alwayssegments, like vegetables or fodder crops. more and more difficult to reach qualifiedeasy to judge and therefore, exposed to sub- These achievements are hardly compatible majorities. jectivity. What would OSA mean in rela- with closing borders, but rather the result About the concrete topics, enlarge- tion to multilateralism and, for instance, theof openness to trade and fair competi-ment, migration, geopolitical strategy,World Trade Organisation? Assuming thattion in the market, on the basis of clear, economic security all these are consid- we want to trade with like-minded coun- well-established, science-based agreed ered as priorities by both the Council andtries, would that be an opportunity to reviveinternational rules.the Commission, but the overall conceptthe Transatlantic Trade and InvestmentThere is a fine line to walk between seems to be the so-called Open StrategicPartnership? What about Mercosur? being more strategic in the way we defend Autonomy (OSA). Bringing it down to food and agri- our interests (something that everybody According to the Council, () Theculture, and based on history and currentwould agree with) and becoming more pro-Open Strategic Autonomy is the referencepolitical debates, I cant help picturingtectionist when things do not go the way framework chosen by the European Unionmany decision-makers interpreting OSA aswe want.(EU) to address the profound technologicalfood sovereignty. And that does not soundIn any case, for a sector based on and geopolitical transformations taking placeso good to me. From my point of view, foodresearch and innovation, such as plant in the world (). The concept is not new,sovereignty is a nicer word for protection- breeding, timely access to the latest tech-and apparently, it comes from the field ofism and artificial barriers to trade (based onnologies is a key factor. Probably something security and defence. Depending on yourvalues?) which finally, will make the entirethe EU should try to boost and to improve area of work, OSA is very broad and canEU agri-food chain less competitive and(and we have ample room for improvement) be interpreted in many ways, but generally,more dependent on higher public supportduring the next mandate. That would be it refers to the preference of the EU to act(be it more CAP funds or green public pro- very strategic to do. SEEDWORLD.COM/EUROPEISEED WORLD EUROPE I 25'