Agri-food exports, notably quality products rather then commodities, are vital for helping Europe emerge from economic crisis, as we are seeing in Ireland, Spain, Greece and Portugal.

This is according to the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Ciolos who addressed the Oxford Farming Conference this week.

In his keynote speech, he said agriculture was an international question, in terms of trade, food security, fighting world poverty, climate change and the management of natural resources.

“We need market orientation and sustainability, which is mostly not remunerated by the market, and responsibility to be taken by the main actors.

“The EU provides strong potential for agricultural exports and has a very important role in setting standards and norms as a global leader.”

He stressed that biodiversity, soil fertility and water are all public goods and the the maintenance of natural resources is of global interest, not just for farmers.

“EU quality, taste and tradition is a major asset when it comes to marketing our products around the world; EU norms on food safety and better

sustainability are very important for increasing exports outside the EU.”

The EU commissioner also told the packed audience of the key stakeholders in the agriculture industry in the UK that he is proposing to treble the budget for EU agriculture promotion in the coming years especially on non-EU markets.

“From my recent visits to China, Japan and South Korea, I gather that ‘made in Europe’ is a very useful message because it reflects food safety, environment and quality.”

In terms of the rollout of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform he said it allows members states flexibility and tools of address their individual priorities without impacting on other countries but within the single market.