Towards a common food policy for the EU

The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) has released a new report: “Towards A Common Food Policy for the EU”.
The report maps out a single, time-bound vision for reforming European food systems, realigning the various sectoral policies that affect food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and refocusing all actions on the transition to sustainability.
This comprehensive vision puts forward over 80 concrete reform proposals, including changes in the way that policies are made and priorities are set. It draws on the collective intelligence of more than 400 farmers, food entrepreneurs, civil society activists, scientists and policymakers consulted over a three-year period.
In a context where the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms are failing to address the huge challenges in food systems, the Common Food Policy offers a Plan B: it presents an opportunity to address climate change, halt biodiversity loss, curb obesity, and make farming viable for the next generation.
While focused on Europe, integrated food policies such as this provide valuable lessons for the rest of the world as well. The report maps out a new governance architecture for food systems, and puts forward a concrete vision of the policy reform and realignment that is required in order to deliver sustainable food systems.
Executive summery – 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 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.”
“Currently, we have anti-obesity strategies, alongside agri-trade policies that make junk food cheap and abundant. We offer premiums to young farmers, alongside a subsidy model that drives up land prices and undermines access to land. And we have strict environmental standards, while the advisory services farmers would need to meet them are being defunded.”
“A Common Food Policy can put an end to these costly contradictions by tackling the root of the problem: the way we make policies and set priorities in food systems.”
The report puts forward 80 concrete reform proposals, carefully sequenced over the short-, medium- and long-term (see below).
De Schutter added: “The Common Food Policy is an ambitious reform agenda. But it is realistic because the proposals are designed to reinforce one another. The most ambitious reforms will become viable on the basis of reclaiming policy-making from powerful lobbies, bringing new actors around the table, and allowing new priorities and new coalitions of interest to emerge.”
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). It includes reform ideas endorsed by the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, and broad civil society coalitions.
“This report is a call to action,” De Schutter said, calling on the EU institutions and Member States to raise their ambitions in current CAP reforms, to urgently align the various policies affecting food systems, and ultimately to complete and put in place a comprehensive Common Food Policy for the EU.
Governance reforms are the first building block of a Common Food Policy. The report also puts forward proposals for reforming and realigning policies under five key objectives:

    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, and create an EU Land Observatory to promote a widespread shift to sustainable farming and 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. —
    Via – Third World Network