Just a few days before the ARC2020 Speakers’ Tour on landgrabbing gets underway, and to mark the International Day of Peasant struggles – 17th April, European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) and the Hands off the Land network have today launched a new report: Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe. Although land grabbing is widely assumed to be happening only in the global South, this new in-depth analysis by a team of researchers shows that land grabbing is also expanding into Europe.
The report, involving 25 authors from 11 countries, reveals the hidden scandal of how a few big private business entities have gained control of ever-greater areas of European land. It exposes how these land elites have been actively supported by a huge injection of public funds – at a time when all other public funding is being subjected to massive cuts.
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. Other drivers for land grabs have come from the extractive industry, urban sprawl, real estate interests, tourism enclaves, and other commercial undertakings.
Building on this ARC2020 has organised for two farmers from Romania to visit different cities in Europe including Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and Berlin from 21 – 30 April to raise awareness of the growing landgrabbing phenonmenon that is taking place on our own doorsteps. You can find more information about the 10 day Speakters’ Tour and the full programme of events here: http://www.goodfoodgoodfarming.eu/events/speakers-tour.html.
In a press release issued today by ECVC, 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.”
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.”