New secretary-general for Copa and Cogeca

Elli Tsiforou is the first woman to hold this position

Copa and Cogeca, the organisations representing European farmers and their co-ops, have appointed Elli Tsiforou as head of their joint general secretariat.

Her appointment was unanimously supported by members of the two apexes, which highlighted her knowledge and experience in EU and national agricultural policies and organisations.

Tsiforou is the first woman to hold the position since its creation in 1962. She will be succeeding Pekka Pesonen, who left in early 2024 to join the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as permanent secretary.

“Elli Tsiforou will bring her personal qualities, her vision for agriculture and her knowledge of Copa-Cogeca, European institutions and a strong involvement with farmers and co-operatives at the national level,” the presidents of Copa and Cogeca, Christiane Lambert and Lennart Nilsson, said in a joint statement.

“Her arrival comes at the right time, at the start of a new political cycle in which agriculture will have to be put back at the core of the public debates. We would also like to thank deputy secretary-general Patrick Pagani and the Copa-Cogeca teams who will continue to manage the organisation’s transition as they have succeeded in doing during this very special year of 2024.”

Related: Lennart Nilsson from Sweden elected president of Cogeca

Tsiforou studied media and communication studies in her native Greece and France before becoming policy advisor to the European and Hellenic Parliaments and chief of staff in the office of the Greek minister for tourism and culture. She spent ten years at GAIA Epicheirein, an organisation representing Greek farmers and agri co-operatives, first as head of EU affairs and subsequently as director general and CEO.

Since 2020 she has been the chair of Cogeca’s Cooperative Coordination Committee, a role in which she helped Cogeca members reach compromises on various issues. She is due to start in her new role in September.

“Gaia Epicheirein and Neuropublic would like to thank Elli for her long-term contribution to the company and its shareholders and wish her every success in her new duties, which she is expected to assume next September. We are confident that she will live up to everyone’s expectations,” said the Greek apex.

Copa and Cogeca represent more than 20 million farmers and 22,000 agricultural co-operatives through apex 95 members from different EU member states.