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IRE - Newsletter - 49 | 2022       


18. Salzburg Europe Summit

Europa und Frieden - "Visionen für Europa: Erwartungen und Realität".

With over 850 guests from 21 countries and 64 experts from 17 countries, the three-day 18th Salzburg Europe Summit was a success in the Salzburg Congress House. We were particularly happy about the more than 350 students from the various schools in Salzburg!

In this HotIssue we will present you with a short summary of the seventh and final panel of the Summit.

You can find the live recordings of all sessions on our >>> Youtube-Kanal<<<.

Fotocredit: Franz Neumayr

Organic and regional should complement each other

Is "Regional" the New "Organic"? This was the question of a high-level debate with experts from agriculture, politics and entrepreneurship at the 18th Salzburg Europe Summit. The experts debated but were on the same page that “Regional” and “organic” quality should not exclude each other but add vale to food and nutrition.
Find here the whole video of the session  >>> Is Regional the new Organic? <<<

Federal Minister Norbert Totschnig was Keynote speaker at the 18th Salzburg Europe Summit.

In his keynote speech Norbert Totschnig, Federal Minister for Agriculture of Austria, underlined: All starts with food! 
Agriculture is a communal policy area, so agricultural policy is at the heart of EU policy. In any case, this question is a home game for Austria. "We are organic European champions and world champions." Regional food is a trend that the crises have intensified by focusing on regional supply independence.
"Regional" and "organic" are to be treated in addition. In the next few months, the EU will draw up a new organic action plan, which must be designed in line with the market and not ideologically. It must be feasible, because it is useless if consumers do not buy the products. The goals are diversification and innovation, above all to be able to establish higher prices for organic and direct marketing. Covid has shown that direct marketing works.
“Organic is a clearly defined and controlled area. Regionally, on the other hand, not at all, explained lawmaker Irene Neumann-Hartberger, herself a farmer and Member of the Austrian Parliament. She added, that Regionality has more to do with psychological terms such as familiarity, solidarity, you know the faces of the people behind the production.
However, consumers are not yet sufficiently involved in their purchasing behavior. "If the consumer decides to buy again on the shelf based on the price, we're back to where we started." The awareness is not yet there, the consumer does not have a look at the seal.

MP Irene Neumann-Hartberger misses the awareness of many consumers.

The term "regional" should be comprehensible, e.g. name a specific place, the route should be clear. As a producer of regional products, you should approach the nearest possible suppliers and see whether their quality is up to par. Well-travelled foods are now rightly priced upwards. In the regional value-added chain, the survival of those involved cannot be indifferent, as can the certainty of fair prices for the suppliers, explained Stefan Richter, who is a German Masterbaker and Entrepreneur in Saxony.

As Brand Ambassador of the Region Upper Lusatia, Stefan Richter is very fond of promoting regional quality.
Simone Schmiedtbauer, an Austrian Member of the European Parliament in the Committee of Agriculture explained, that the countries individually have to set how high the organic share can be as this is depending on demand and supply, and these are very different. Austria could lean back because our organic share is very high. Nevertheless, one is in favor of creating incentives instead of imposing bans. “We should interest others, but the paths are different. We can tell other countries what has worked for us and, quite frankly, what hasn't worked."
In Salzburg, the brand of origin "Salzburg Tastes" was founded in 2019, which is used very closely as a certificate of origin. Many wanted to be part of the seal, currently there are 2000 products, 300 companies, 28 canteen kitchens that supply 28,000 people a day, 125 restaurants. But you don't just do this for tourism, but above all for the people who live in Salzburg, stated Josef Schwaiger, State Councillor for Agriculture, Forestry, Water Management and Energy of Salzburg.
He added that while "organic" works horizontally, "regional" is structured vertically. You shouldn't work with quotas. For example, with the “Ja Natürlich” brand, the requirement of 50% organic content of regional products was exceeded, so they were reduced to 40% organic, which means that a very high proportion of 80% regional is feasible. "You have to deal with brands, you have to work with intuition, without forgetting the markets."

"You have to deal with brands, you have to work with intuition without forgetting the markets."

Oliver Sitar, expert in the Directorate-General Agriculture within the European Commission, emphazised Regionality as it is a trend that leads to higher added value in rural areas and thus makes life there more worth living. Organic and regional should complement each other. Nevertheless, one should not ignore the aspect of international security of supply, which is guaranteed by international trade.
It should be taken into account that consumers do not decide homogeneously. Organic is important for some, animal welfare for others, and climate protection for others. "Everything should be shown, but it's not that simple." The Commission will soon make a proposal for a kind of label that shows the individual important sustainability elements. The focus is on raising awareness among consumers to accept additional costs. Where additional costs cannot be passed on to consumers, farmers must be compensated for them through budgetary state measures that reflect the multifunctionality of agriculture. 
The last two years were historic moments, the borders were closed, the ships in the ports, production stood still. But agriculture, a sector employing 500,000 people, continued to operate while the overall economy was at a standstill. What did we learn from the crisis, asked Kurt Weinberger, the Chairman of the Board of Hagelversicherung Insurance Group.
We should be aware that we could create a lot more jobs in Austria if we wanted to further strengthen regionality and focus more on Austrian food. If the political will is behind it, even more local food could be included in the procurement guidelines.

Kurt Weinberger sees an economic factor in regionality.

Landkreis Regensburg is new member of the IRE-network

District Administrator Tanja Schweiger signed the membership form at the 18th Salzburg Europe Summit.

Salzburg/Regensburg. Not only was the IRE able to welcome the District Administrator of the district of Regensburg, Ms. Tanja Schweiger, at the 18th Salzburg Europe Summit, the official accession of the district to the European network of the IRE was also signed.

District Administrator Tanja Schweiger signed the IRE membership at the 18th Salzburg Europe Summit

The district with approx. 200.000 inhabitants has a diverse landscape, completely surrounds the district-free city of Regensburg and includes the Danube valley and the valleys of Laber, Regen and Naab, all of which are tributaries of the Danube.

At a meeting in Regensburg with Franz Schausberger, the District Administrator Tanja Schwaiger was particularly interested in the regional and municipal network of the IRE, as this enables a valuable exchange of know-how among the regions, districts, districts and cities and municipalities.

IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger cordially welcomes this active bavarian District in the European wide network of the IRE and is looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with mutual benefit.
Tanja Schweiger has been administrator of the Regensburg district since 2014 and was confirmed in office in the first ballot in 2020 with over 60% of the votes.

Successful Internship

Petr Konečný from the Czech Republic successfully completed a one-month internship at IRE in Salzburg.

Salzburg. The student Petr Konečný from the Czech city of Brno completed a one-month internship at the Institute of Regions in Europe (IRE). His thesis is about "Policies without Politics? A comparison between Austrian and Czech Regions".

We would like to thank Petr very much for his good and committed work and wish him the best of luck for the future!

The International IRE Internship Program is kindly supported by

Land Salzburg - Kultur und Wissenschaft | Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung | Austrian Development Agency - ADA | GAS CONNECT Austria GmbH

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