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Agriculture minister: New EU forest strategy must respect national competences

Sustainable forest management will help to achieve climate protection targets set down in the European Union's Green Deal, but national regulations are the best way forward, Minister of Agriculture Istvan Nagy said in a statement on Tuesday.

After attending the Oct 11-12 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg, Nagy said forest management was overwhelmingly a national competence and he called on Brussels to respect the national forest management policies of EU member states.

The meeting considered the EU’s new forest strategy released in June which outlines proposals regarding the development of Europe’s forests in response to the pressing challenges they face.

The ministers agreed that forests are key in sustaining biological diversity and fighting climate change. At the same time, the ministers expressed concern that insufficient emphasis was given in the strategy to the role of forests in the economy and society.

Nagy underscored Hungary’s commitment to increasing the country’s wooded areas as well as to preserving its existing forests. He noted the government’s objective to increase wooded and forested areas from 24 percent to 27 percent by 2030.

Forest management regulations can be implemented most effectively at national level, the minister said. With its proposals, the European Commission would overstep its powers laid down in the EU Treaties and curb the autonomy of member states, he added.

EU rules cannot adequately cover the particular needs of member states’ ecological and forest management, Nagy said, calling on the EC to respect national forestry policies.

The minister said he was confident the EU would take the concerns and suggestions expressed at the council meeting into account when formulating its strategy in November.

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