"President of the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy,
Italy is more and more committed to promote good practices against labour exploitation in the agricultural industry across Europe. To achivethis ambitious aim, the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy has launched the "Be Aware" initiative, to favour the emergence of new rights to prevent conflicts, as well as to support the awareness on clean agro-industries, spreading the use of clear and certified labels
According to the Italian centre, "illegal workers make up on average 25 per cent of the agricultural sector throughout Europe, they are more present in southern and eastern Europe". In particular, "illegal farm workers exceed 25 per cent in Poland and 30 per cent in Italy", while Germany and Austria counts only 10 per cent of illegal workers.
Although the majority of European countries is aware that this situation is unacceptable and Italy even approved a law in 2016 to crack down on exploitation in the agricultural industry, it is a matter of fact that the issue cannot only be dealt with at a national level. Actually, even the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani recently emphasized that the problem of labour exploitation should "be addressed at a European level to reaffirm the basic values that the EU was founded on".
Unfortunately, as reminded by the vice-president of the EP's agricultural committee, Paolo De Castro, "previous attempts to provide funding only to agricultural companies following specific labour standards, as seen with the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reforms of agricultural commissioners Franz Fischler and Dacian Ciolos, were unsuccessful".
Good practices already exist, and European countries have different records regarding labour exploitation. However, a new regional strategy is needed to boost cooperation and finalize a more effective strategy.