Up to 50% of food gets wasted in EU households, supermarkets, restaurants and along the food supply chain each year, while 79 million EU citizens live beneath the poverty line and 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions. The proposed own-initiative opinion should give impetus to draw up at the European level a coordinated strategy, combining EU-wide and national measures, to improve the efficiency of food supply and consumption chains and to tackle food wastage as a matter of urgency.
Opinion on The importance of agricultural trade for the future development of agriculture and farming in the EU in the context of global food security
The European Economic and Social Committee greets the Commission's legislative proposals with interest, and notes that some – although far from all – recommendations made in its past opinions have been taken into account. Most importantly, the Committee has repeatedly stated that the future CAP must be driven by a determination to defend the European agricultural model, which is based on the principles of food sovereignty, sustainability and responsiveness to the real needs of farmers and consumers.
The EESC repeats that the European agricultural model cannot operate at world market prices and conditions and does not come free of charge. Any policy that promotes this agricultural model thus requires sufficient financial resources. However, in the current proposals concerning the Union budget for the 2014-2020 period, the resources earmarked for the CAP would be clearly reduced in constant price terms.
Over recent years, there has been a shift in bargaining power in the food supply chain, mostly to the advantage of the retail sector and some transnational companies and to the detriment of suppliers, in particular primary producers. The concentration of bargaining power has led to the abuse of positions of dominance causing weaker operators to become increasingly vulnerable to Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). The opinion takes stock of the impact of UTPs, stresses the difficult position of the most vulnerable actors along the chain and calls for action at EU level to stop UTPs and promote a fairer food supply chain.
On 5 April, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)'s NAT section invited supporters and opponents of the European Citizens' Initiative calling for a ban on glyphosate to debate in its premises. A million supporters from at least 7 member states are needed in order for the Commission to consider taking action about this substance along the demands of the ECI. After two months the initiative has already collected over 640,000 signatures. The ECI includes three requests: firstly, a ban on glyphosate, secondly, a reform of the pesticide approval procedure, and thirdly, setting EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use.