Greening Agri-food Policy in the EU
The European agri-food sector is facing major challenges – socio-economic, environmental, dietary, ethical, financial, and technological. In order to ensure Europe’s food security and sustainability in the future, the sector needs to undergo significant changes. Its greening is essential for the EU to reach its 2030 climate and biodiversity targets, as well as climate neutrality by 2050. In this context, the issue of reconciling the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the Farm to Fork Strategy has already sparked debates and will need to be resolved.
The European agri-food sector has steadily grown in terms of gross value added over the past ten years. Europe is today the world’s biggest food exporter and third biggest importer in terms of value. The agri-food sector is also an important employer, with the employment structure being very heterogenous, particularly in farming. Nevertheless, the importance of the farming sector for the economy differs greatly between EU Member States. As the EU’s agri-food production and consumption are deeply integrated in international supply chains, the transformation of the European sector requires consideration of the international context and has implications for external trade in agri-food products.
This paper argues that the green transformation of the EU’s agri-food system will not be successful if it does not include all stakeholders along the value chain, starting with input sectors and primary production, through to processing, transportation, wholesale and retail, and finishing with international trade and consumption.
For this to happen, integrating the CAP into the Farm to Fork Strategy will be essential. The CAP has been the main political instrument for the agri-food sector at the European level and the consistency of this policy instrument with the vision for the future offered by the Farm to Fork Strategy must be ensured. Beyond this, three requirements will need to be satisfied: first, an adequate trade strategy to respond to concerns of “unfair competition” from imports due to less stringent levels of environmental requirements; second, a clear decarbonisation path for the entire value chain; and third, an enabling environment for consumers.