How does the EC support sustainable food?


The European Union has set itself a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050. Food production is responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve net zero, the Commission recognizes that the way we produce and consume food must be transformed.

Through the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, the Commission has clarified its ambitions in the agri-food sector. The EC wants a 50% reduction in the use of pesticides; at least 20% reduction in fertilizer use; 50% reduction in sales of antimicrobials used for farm animals; and 25% of agricultural land to be used for organic farming.

“We all need to step up our efforts to make our food systems more sustainable and able to meet our 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In the European Union, we are taking action – in fact many actions – through of the Farm to Folk strategy. The Strategy is at the head of our efforts towards more competitive and sustainable food systems ”,Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told the digital audience about the Future of Food conference, hosted by EIT-Food.

“We take a systems approach, we want to exploit new opportunities in different sectors by developing integrated responses that can benefit people, nature and economic growth”said the Polish politician.

But what does it look like on the pitch? What concrete measures are being taken to improve European agri-food production?

Wojciechowski said the EC has established a framework for action, with specific targets and deadlines. “Before the end of 2023, the Commission will present a proposal to put in place a framework for a sustainable food system. Our aim is to gradually raise sustainability standards so that they become the norm for all food products placed on the EU market ”,he told delegates. The Commission then plans to launch a “wide consultation” to assess the views of stakeholders and citizens.

Marketing standards to “empower” sustainable consumption

On the market side, Wojciechowski revealed that a “proposal to revise European Union marketing standards” will be presented over the next year. “The objective of this review is to allow an increased use and supply of sustainable agricultural products, thus complementing the other actions of the farm-to-fork strategy.”

In the 27 measures proposed by the original farm-to-fork strategy document, the Commission included proposals on nutrition labeling and origin labeling. He also presented a proposal for a sustainable food labeling framework to “empower consumers” to make sustainable food choices, to be established by 2024.

“We believe that consumer demand for better, healthier and more sustainable food can generate new opportunities for farmers and the wider rural economy. “Wojciechowski said yesterday. “To help farmers take advantage of this opportunity, we need to combine our legislative approach with concrete actions that can bring short and medium term results on the ground. “

Carbon agriculture and “green business opportunities”

In particular, Wojciechowski highlighted the potential of carbon agriculture to open up “green business opportunities” for European farmers.

“By the end of this year, the Commission will present a proposal for a new EU agriculture carbon initiative. This will reward farmers and foresters for practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere, thus contributing to carbon neutrality goals through a new sustainable business model ”,he announced.

The Common Agricultural Policy will also play a “key role” in “achieving the ambitions” of the Green Deal and the farm-to-fork strategy. “Member States are due to submit their plans to the Commission by the end of the year, outlining how they will spend agricultural funds from 2023 to 2027. For the first time in the history of the CAP, they will implement the instruments most significant support in budgetary terms in a single territory under a single programming instrument. This is a key step in ensuring a more coherent and strategic approach in the design and implementation of the various instruments… between the two pillars of the CAP ”,he suggested.

“We are not alone in this case”

The CAP is “not the only tool” to advance the EC’s sustainable food agenda, Wojciechowski continued. “An active and continuous contribution from all relevant policies is necessary to achieve our goals. “

Speaking at the event organized to support the development of innovation and technology in Europe, Wojciechowski underlined the value of the contribution made by all parties, including civil society, academia and business. “The task ahead is complex, but I am happy to see that we are not alone in this case… bringing together projects and partners to make our food systems more sustainable, healthy and trustworthy… I am very impressed by the work undertaken by EIT Food initiative and its partners. Your projects in the areas of innovation, education, entrepreneurship and consumer engagement show exactly the kind of ideas and initiatives we need to achieve the ambitions and commitments raised during of the United Nations Food Summit.

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