Polish minister: EU farm nominee knows ‘specificity’ of Eastern agriculture

"Janusz Wojciechowski is one of the best Polish politician, when it comes to agricultural issues," said Polish agriculture minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski. [EPA-EFE/WARNAND]

The added-value of Commissioner-designate for agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, is that he is aware of Eastern Europe’s specificity when it comes to farming policy, says Polish farm minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski.

Wojciechowski is “one of the best Polish politicians when it comes to agricultural issues,” Ardanowski told EURACTIV on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU agriculture ministers in Helsinki.

The nominee for the EU’s top agriculture job has good knowledge of Europe. A Polish national, Wojciechowski served two consecutive terms as a member of the European Parliament before being appointed at the European Court of Auditors in 2016.

“But at the same time, he knows our part of Europe,” Ardanowski stressed. “Not many people understand that in Western Europe, but there is a certain specificity of the countries that are transforming from communism,” he explained.

According to Ardanowski, the appointment of a Pole as the EU’s new Agriculture Commissioner is a clear recognition of Poland’s effort to transform in recent years.

And that includes the ecological transition, Ardanowski said. “Janusz is a supporter of a type of farming which I support very much as well: the sustainable one,” he said, adding that the Commissioner-candidate is in favour of retaining support for small holdings and young farmers staying on the job.

“This is the type of agriculture which is growing in importance across Europe,” Ardanowski said.

Wojciechowski will be grilled before the European Parliament’s Agriculture committee (AGRI) and the associated Environment committee (ENVI) next Tuesday (1 October), starting at 2.30 pm.

He is one of the Commission nominees who risks being rejected by the European Parliament, as he is the subject of an inquiry by anti-corruption authority OLAF.

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French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume dodged questions about Wojciechowski, saying there will be no official comment until the Pole’s nomination is approved by the European Parliament. He added, however, that he did not know him before.

Discussions with the Polish Commissioner-candidate are ongoing, confirmed Norbert Lins, a German Christian-democrat MEP who is the President of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

EU farmers groups, for their part, have a positive opinion of Wojciechowski. “My understanding is that Mr Wojciechowski is very committed and very motivated,” said Pekka Pesonen, the secretary general of farmers and cooperatives organisation COPA-COGECA.

Pesonen said he had met a few times with the Polish nominee when he was an MEP, saying he is technically well qualified and suited for the job. They haven’t met since the Pole’s nomination, Pesonen added, saying he relies on the strong Polish delegation in COPA-COGECA to keep in contact with him whenever possible.

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[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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