Over the last twelve months ACTION has intensified its campaign within the EU institutions in order to win support for the development of regional food reserves. This has been done through attempts to receive funding for a pilot project, and there will be a third attempt to achieve this in 2016. We believe that campaigning within the EU institutions helps to raise our profile and to make MEPs and Commission officials aware of what our arguments are. A large number of MEPs, for instance, understand and support our arguments for food reserves as a way of preventing the sort of price volatility that can lead to food shortages, mass migration and famine. They also understand that we want to use the regional dimension implicit in the establishment of food reserves as a means of making cooperation between nations outside the EU much more effective.
But working with the EU institutions from the inside is only one approach. It is essential, and it makes use of the fact that we are an organisation based in Brussels, but it is not enough. Another approach is to interest regions outside the EU directly in our project and win their support. That is what we are now doing.
At the end of 2015 ACTION had a meeting in Germany with Dr. Ricardo Lagos Andino, Representative in Europe for the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), a body which emerged in the 1990s partly as a response to the civil wars that had been raging in several Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, in the 1980s. It now has representatives from six Central American countries – El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Dominican Republic and Guatemala – in the far from perfect but more peaceful environment of the 2010s. The Central American Parliament is in turn a key institution within SICA, the System of Central American Integration.
Encouraged by its meeting with the Representative in Europe, ACTION would now like to go to Central America in order to meet representatives from PARLACEN and discuss a regional food reserve.
A further acronym which needs to be thrown into the mix is EUROLAT, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, a grouping made up of 75 members of the European Parliament and 75 members of various Latin American Parliamentary groupings, of which PARLACEN is one. By continuing to work with MEPs in the European Parliament in anticipation of the next meeting of EUROLAT in May 2016, when the President of PARLACEN will be in Europe, ACTION will seek to encourage EUROLAT to move in the same direction as PARLACEN towards establishing a regional food reserve. Resolutions have already been passed by both bodies which suggest that they would welcome such an inititative, but as with all such campaigns it is one thing to have a resolution and another thing to act on it.
ACTION is therefore developing its campaign for food reserves in 2016 by both continuing to work with the institutions of the European Union and by working with regional bodies outside it. It may have to trade some of those meetings in the Mickey Mouse bar of the European Parliament in Brussels for meetings in Central America. However, that can only widen horizons and give a ‘two front’ approach to our campaign for food reserves which will offer it an even greater chance of success.