b'tion of stakeholders on an even more limited set of issues, things suddenly look rather different. So, the next logical question then is, of course, what changed? to explain the re-kindled interest.WHAT HAS CHANGED?What has changed, and actually quite radically, is the overall political background before which the Commission now vows to act and to tailor its individual initiatives. The Green Deal, the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, COemission 2reduction, climate neutrality, resilience and strategic autonomytogether they seem to form a new narrative in political discus-sions around agriculture, food and land use against which all political initiatives are weighed and either pursued or discarded. Seed as the starting point of all agricultural and ultimately all food production then logically attracts and some new attention in such changed political context. So, could this then be the starting point of an engaging and fruitful discussion where at the end we will look with satisfaction at a new EU seed law that continues to foster the domestic development as well as the Europes international position in plant breeding, seed produc-tion and seed trade? Well, unfortunately, that seems anything but certain. Because next to what has changed? one also needs to consider what has not?.WHAT HAS NOT CHANGED?Looking back over the past decades, specifically to the dis-cussions that led to the rejection of the Commissions Better Regulation proposal in 2013 and 2014, and, more recently, to debates on the future of Europes agricultural policies and related measures in the area of environmental protection, pres-ervation of biodiversity or food quality and international trade, there are good reasons to be sceptical. All these discussions have continuously become more divisive, agitated and deconstruc- Garlich von Essentive as they were increasingly fought with an almost religious fury and righteousness that left little room for facts and figures, common sense and compromise. Food and farming, it seems,the use of appropriate (i.e. high quality) seed, and that greater have become a political battleground dividing friends and foesproductivity will be achieved if the free choice of varieties is rather than bringing together partners and competitors. Still,based on strict uniform rules that provide quality assurance. In the fact that so many are interested and so many care about theshort, the legislation shall establish a true common market and subject also bears chances for this new attempt. fair competition for suppliers and broad choice and product qual-ity assurance to customers, supporting a competitive seed sector ABOUT THE WHAT AND THE HOW and farmers economic performance. This is the core objective A lot will depend on how the further consultation of stakehold- of all the EUs seed marketing Directives and the corresponding ers will be carried out. This is less a question of who will beDirectives for the Common Catalogues. In fact, a rathertypical consulted, at what point in time, what tools will be used andtechnical legislation, similar to hundreds of acts in other eco-how all this will be duly documented and reported on in thenomic areas that safeguard our Common Market.final impact assessment the Commission will elaborate. This all will surely follow due process and standards. It is foremostEXEMPTIONS AND ADDITIONSa question of what the defined objectives of this specific legisla- However, the overall regulatory framework for seed is indeed tion are and how achieving them may be helped by changes tomuch broader than the basic six Marketing Directives for agri-the current rules. Clearly, if there is ambiguity in the answer(s)cultural and vegetable species and the two related Common to the first part of that question, there will be incoherence inCatalogues. There are various acts that provide specific exemp-the answers to the second. And consequently, rather divergingtions or additions in relation to specific seed users (e.g., amateur opinions whether ones own input has correctly been considered. gardeners), markets and suppliers (small packages distributed through garden centres or supermarkets) or purposes (conser-THE CORE OBJECTIVE vation of genetic resources rather than commercial crop pro-It is therefore appropriate to remind ourselves why the EU estab- duction). While principal product quality assurance and fair lished seed marketing rules in the first place: the different actscompetition remain valid policy objectives also for these niches, stipulate that the production of the different plant productsadditional ones such as preservation of genetic resources or facil-occupies a significant place in the Unions agriculture, that sat- itated rules for non-commercial (private) activities come into isfactory results of their cultivation depends to a large extent onplay and justify specific rules.EUROPEAN-SEED.COMIEUROPEAN SEED I 13'