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What is the EU prioritizing at the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit?

By on May 31, 2021 0

While this summit has not yet taken place, its preparation has already been the subject of much debate. Proposed by UN Secretary General António Guterres, the Food Systems Summit aims to bring all actors in the food chain to the negotiating table in order to propose healthier, more sustainable and fairer food systems within the framework of of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Discussions on preparations for this summit have been going on for months and echo in many ways the ongoing discussions at European level on the farm-to-fork strategy.

It is therefore not surprising to find some of the similar strengths and weaknesses in the approach proposed by the European Council. As in European debates, the focus of the “food system” results in a dilution of farmers’ voices in these very global discussions. It is therefore not surprising to see the word “farmers” mentioned only twice in the document. In this context, the announcement of a consultation with all stakeholders at EU level is more than welcome. Shouldn’t it have happened already, that’s another question.

Several points of the text are welcomed by Copa-Cogeca, starting with the place given to research and innovation. We also support the Council’s approach to the fight against food waste, the defense of an organic and circular economy, the promotion of new economic models and also the place given to women farmers.

However, as with the farm-to-fork strategy, the Council’s position vis-à-vis the UN summit is missing some major points. The declaration constantly talks about concrete solutions, but few concrete options are presented from the farmers’ point of view. Considering that at the European level we lack an impact study on the real consequences of the farm-to-fork strategy, including the commercial implications, how to assess a transposition on a global scale, particularly with regard to the Food Safety?

Copa-Cogeca secretary general Pekka Pesonen wonders: “The Council and the European Union as a whole want to be in the lead, but there is a risk that European agriculture will have to pay a high price if the other participants do not follow us. – More than this summit as such, the question to which the European agricultural community wishes above all to know the answer is to know what will ultimately be the monitoring mechanisms that Europe will succeed in imposing to guarantee the respect for the agreement to be reached in New York. “

In this sense, the Council’s proposal to include a specific chapter devoted to the sustainability of food systems in our future trade agreements is a step in the right direction. But what about the deal that will widen the standards gap between EU farmers and international operators, the EU-Mercosur deal?

As for the farm-to-fork strategy, the European agricultural sector expects concrete, measurable and applicable solutions capable of generating enthusiasm on the ground and rapid adoption.

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