The EU Fertilisers Market Observatory announced in the Communication on the need for available and affordable fertilisers adopted in November 2022 is one step closer to becoming reality. Indeed, the European Commission published the call for applications with a view to formally launch the group of experts before summer 2023. The call is open until 18 April.
Fertilisers play a significant role for food security. Following the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, global food security and food prices are being impacted by a general mineral fertiliser and energy crisis. In that context, the European Commission presented at the end of last year a wide range of actions and guidance to tackle immediate challenges as well as reduce our dependencies. Reinforcing the resilience and sustainability of our food systems in the medium and long-term must be achieved while securing yields.
On the short-term, it is important to have comprehensive and public data on price, production and trade of fertilisers. To increase market transparency and examine ways in which to obtain more real-time data from actors in the chain and at national level, the Commission committed in its Communication to launch in 2023 an observatory for fertilisers markets in the EU. This new observatory will be modelled after the market observatories already in place for several agricultural sectors, notably milk, crops, and fruit and vegetable. Organisations representing stakeholders of at least 10 EU Member States and active within the EU in the fertilisers supply chains are invited to apply. The observatory, chaired by Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, will be composed of up to 20 members appointed for a period of five years. It will, among other tasks, provide first-hand information (including data) about the fertiliser market’s situation, as well as factors affecting it, and exchange experiences and good practices.
On the medium and long term, use of fertilisers should be optimised and mineral fertilisers should be substituted, whenever possible, by organic fertilisers. This will help reduce EU’s dependence on gas, used to produce nitrogen fertilisers, and on mined mineral fertilisers such as phosphates and potash, as well as reduce the carbon footprint of the sector. This is in line with the wider actions set out in the European Critical Raw Materials’ Act adopted today by the European Commission. The proposals presented today aim to reinforce EU monitoring capacities and strengthen the EU value chain and EU external policies on a range of critical materials, including those used for the production of mineral fertilisers. Conducting the green and digital transitions without jeopardising the EU’s sovereignty is key.
Under the common agricultural policy (CAP), financial support is widely available to farmers with a view to optimising their fertiliser use, thereby enabling them to achieve environmental, climate and economic benefits.
In the CAP Strategic Plans, close to €98 billion, corresponding to 32% of the total CAP funding (EU and co-financing) will be devoted until 2027 to delivering benefits for the climate, water, soil, air, biodiversity and animal welfare, and to encourage practices beyond the mandatory conditionality. The Plans will support sustainable management practices, such as organic fertilisation, extensive grassland management, growing of leguminous and catch-crops, or agroforestry in 35% of the EU's agricultural area. Crop rotation is also expected on around 85% of the EU CAP-supported arable land. This will favour further cultivation in the EU of more leguminous crops that are fixing nitrogen in the soil.
- Publication date
- 16 March 2023
- Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development