Common Food Policy for Europe unveiled — a blueprint shaped by 400 actors

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Common Food Policy for Europe unveiled — a blueprint shaped by 400 actors

A Common Food Policy for Europe is urgently required to address climate change, halt biodiversity loss, curb obesity, and make farming viable for the next generation. This was the key message of a report launched today by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), following a three-year process of participatory research.

Launching the report at the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee, Olivier De Schutter, IPES-Food co-chair and lead author, said: "A Common Food Policy can spark a wholesale transition to sustainable food systems in a way that the CAP, as a Common Agricultural Policy, cannot." "The most ambitious reforms — the reforms we most urgently need — will only become viable on the basis of reclaiming decision-making processes from powerful lobbies, bringing new actors around the table, shaping policies in more democratic ways, and allowing new priorities and new coalitions of interest to emerge."

The report maps out a single, time-bound vision for reforming European food systems under a Common Food Policy: a policy framework setting a direction of travel for the whole food system, realigning the various sectoral policies that affect food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and refocusing all actions on the transition to sustainability.

The report puts forward 80 concrete reform proposals, carefully sequenced over the short-, medium- and long-term. The proposals include the following:
  • • Create a European Commission Vice-President for Sustainable Food Systems and a Food Intergroup in the European Parliament to oversee & harmonize sectoral policies (CAP, trade, environment, etc.).
  • • Require Member States to develop Healthy Diet Plans (covering public procurement, urban planning, fiscal and social policies, marketing & nutrition education) as a condition for unlocking CAP payments, & introduce comprehensive EU-wide restrictions on junk food marketing.
  • • Introduce an EU-wide ‘agroecology premium’ as a new rationale for distributing CAP payments, rebuild independent farm advisory services, & create an EU Land Observatory to promote a major shift to sustainable farming & land use.
  • • Make food importers accountable for ensuring their supply chains are free from deforestation, land-grabs and rights violations (‘due diligence’), remove investor protections (‘ISDS’) in trade agreements, and provide accessible complaints mechanisms for farmers and civil society.
  • • Increase support for initiatives linking farmers and consumers (‘short supply chains’), relocalized processing and value-adding activities, local food policy councils, and urban food policies.
  • • Create an EU Food Policy Council to bring the concerns of local food system actors to the EU level and ensure that EU policies are systematically designed to support the emergence of local food initiatives.
The Common Food Policy vision draws on the collective intelligence of more than 400 farmers, food entrepreneurs, civil society activists, scientists and policymakers consulted through 5 policy labs in Brussels, 4 local labs around Europe, and the May 2018 EU Food and Farming Forum (EU3F). The blueprint also includes proposals already endorsed by the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, and broad civil society coalitions.

The report captures a growing consensus: more and more voices are calling for integrated food policies, including the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, a growing number of MEPs, the European Commission's in-house scientific bodies (EEA, JRC, SAM, SCAR Committee), some national governments (Netherlands, Sweden), the OECD, and a range of civil society groups.

"Whether we look at CAP reform, pesticide approvals or trade negotiations, the gap between what citizens want food systems to deliver, and what current policies are able to achieve, is bigger than ever. The Common Food Policy offers a Plan B for Europe: it is about reclaiming public policy for the public good, and rebuilding trust in the European project." De Schutter said.

Full Report: Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU

Source: Press release IPES, 07.02.2019