Combating land concentration in Europe

4th FLT thematic discussion on the European region

February 23 Webinar

List of speakers :

  • Eliaz Moreau - Land Policy Coordinator - ECVC, France : Proposal for a European ECVC Directive
  • Robert Levesque - President of AGTER, France: A law to control the market for shares in agricultural production units
  • Ana-Maria Gatejel - Eco Ruralis, Romania: Associations for the management of common goods in Romania
  • Conchi Mogo - Sindicato Labrego Galego, Spain: Farming parks for peasant agriculture in Spain

Full recording below in French, English, English with Portuguese and Spanish subtitles:

French recording
Recording in English

The webinar is available in English below with Portuguese subtitles:

Recording in Spanish

Introductory note for the debate proposed by AGTER, Confédération paysanne, ECVC and CERAI

Among the important findings, we feel we can highlight and discuss the following developments:

  • The marginalization of peasant agriculture, which also affects Europe: concentration of land and the advance of capitalist agriculture (with salaries + service providers)
    More than the origin of capital, it is the monopolization of land and, in all cases, of agricultural (agri-food?) added value, in the service of maximizing the rate of return on capital, which is at issue (and not the maximization of wealth (VA added value) and of jobs generated by Ha) 

If the discussion driven by CONTAG is focused onextranjerisação, it is because a bill is under discussion in the Brazilian parliament to open up access to land for foreigners from the control (up to 25% per municipal territory) (PL 2.963/2019). It is therefore necessary to note the broader nature of the problem.

The concentration of land rights (rent and ownership) is a major dimension of this marginalization/eviction of peasants. 

  • This concentration is encouraged by certain public policies. The legal frameworks and European public aid to agriculture have encouraged and continue to encourage the expansion of production units, synonymous with the disappearance of production units and farmers. (figures for the last 50 years). The fact that European subsidies are distributed per hectare, without a ceiling, and untied from the work, favors the accumulation of land by large companies and financial funds and increases the price of land
  • Peasant agriculture is also under threat from the financialization of biodiversity and climate change. Carbon credit mechanisms are increasingly captured by large investors who buy up land to benefit from reforestation or fallow land (for example, in Wales, London investment funds are already buying up certain farms at auction: they raze them to plant trees and collect carbon credits, destroying the entire local social and economic fabric in the process). Compensation mechanisms for biodiversity loss (buying back land to be ecologically "restored" in exchange for the destruction of other ecosystems) are increasingly being put forward in international negotiations for biodiversity, and integrated into national legislation. The banking sector is seizing on these mechanisms by presenting them as sustainable savings products - a Davos report estimates that climate and biodiversity finance represents "10,000 billion business opportunities per year". If these markets become widespread, the social and geopolitical consequences could be colossal, with increased competition for land use.  
  • Land ownership is therefore not the only issue: there is a diversity of forms of control over land through a diversity of land use rights and other means of controlling the choices of exploitation, as well as a diversity of access to these rights and other means. In addition, there is the question of the points at which the value-added chain is punctured.
    The analysis highlights the very diverse combinations that the terms "right of use", "possession", "ownership", "control" and "exploitation" can cover. 
  • The maintenance and control of common property, which continues to exist in several European countries, is one way to defend peasant agriculture and to fight against the privatization of land and its concentration
  • (as an extension of the idea of 'loss of rights' in the previous point) Should we deplore a loss of national sovereignty? The "loss of sovereignty" can be seen under another angle: that of the loss of sovereignty citizen on the choices of use of the territory