Kilkenny and the Setting of a Conservative Agenda

Culture - November 8, 2023

Defending Nature with the man in it, thus defending traditional agriculture and biodiversity by embracing innovation from a conservative perspective. This is the summary of the manifesto that emerged from the three-day Irish ECR Party Conference that took place between Dublin and the beautiful surroundings of Kilkenny as part of the Culture Weekend on 3-5 November. The Confreence was very appropriately entitled ‘Traditions and Innovation: A Conservative Future for Europe’s Farmers’.

When describing the anthropocentric view of conservative environmentalism, ECR President Giorgia Meloni often likes to recall the words of Roger Scruton: “Ecology is the quintessence of the conservative cause because it is the example of that alliance we defend between the dead, the living and the unborn”. The conservative philosopher placed at the centre of his green thinking the concept of oikophilia, or love of one’s home, in the wider sense, love of the environment as the home in which we all live. An idea that contrasts with the strongly ideological view of the ‘green’ left and the climate change movements, which see the environment as something that humanity must expel because it is dangerous to its own survival.

In Kilkenny, where the ECR panel discussion unfolded, green conservatism posed some big questions concerning the future of agriculture in Europe.

From a conservative perspective, the strongly ideological thesis that agriculture is one of the activities with the greatest impact on the environment is simply paradoxical. It was clear from the discussions that the farmer is the first environmental “sentinel” on the land, mainly because it is in his interest as an entrepreneur to ensure the well-being of the natural world around him.

The mission is to embrace innovation and develop the green economy, but with a view to defending tradition, pragmatism and common sense, as was made clear in one of the most important conservations between the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, and the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski. Combining environmental and economic wellbeing with a view to protecting biodiversity and traditional national specificities are the key points on which to develop a green conservative agenda, also in view of the next European elections.

In the same vein, the importance of the fight against synthetic food was underscored, like that of a green economy that offers greater convenience to the consumer but also prosperity for European companies, the defence of farmers, breeders and fishermen who risk paying a very high price for the policies currently included in the European Green Deal. Furthemore, it was also agreed that there should be no Nutriscore labelling that does not respect diversity, tradition and typical national products.

Finally, conservatives intend to strongly support natural products and European production capacity, because lack of growth is never happy and would only mean an increase in imports. In turn, they would escalate our dependence on foreign countries that follow completely different production and environmental protocols. This is one more reason to remember, as Commissioner Wojciechowski did, that “synthetic meat is not meat, synthetic milk is not milk”, so the European model cannot be that of synthetic food, produced in large factories abroad, while our farmers are forced to close their farms because of foolish ideological choices.

The European Conservative model of agriculture stands in stark contrast to most of the policies adopted in the EU on this issue to date, with an overly bureaucratic approach rooted in the ideologies of the far left. An effort by the entire ECR family, at the next European elections, to change the balance of power in the European Parliament and in the other institutions concerned will be absolutely necessary, so that a new model of development that respects the environment, but also the man and his activities, is finally possible in Europe.