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Eleven central and eastern European countries reaffirmed their commitment to a joint farming innovation initiative on the fifth anniversary of the BIOEAST scheme, Hungary’s agriculture minister said in Brussels on Monday. The BIOEAST scheme aims to boost the region’s share of EU funding for innovation and research in agriculture and help participating countries narrow the gap with the rest of the EU in this area, István Nagy told Hungarian reporters after a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council. Another aim is to ensure that CEE member states receive more than the current 5.7% of the bloc’s 9 billion euro agriculture research budget, the minister said. “The initiative’s signatory central and eastern European countries joined forces … for a show of strength and to secure as much funding … for themselves as possible,” Nagy said.
Innovation and research are important for competitiveness, as producers have to compete on a single market, he said, adding that all EU citizens needed to have a fair shot at applying for EU funds. The initiative can help generate resources to resolve problems arising from climate change and animal health, and can make it easier for the participating countries to meet animal welfare standards, as they will have a larger knowledge base to work with, he said.
The BIOEAST initiative was launched in 2016 and involves Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.