The future of food and farming (Communication) - Related Opinions
The own-initiative opinion, prepared by the EESC Permanent Study Group on Sustainable Food Systems, will aim to identify existing challenges, policy inconsistencies and obstacles to a more coherent food policy approach at EU level; to provide examples of ongoing transitions to more sustainable food policies at local/regional/national level; to highlight the role of civil society in building partnerships among stakeholders across the food supply chain; and to define how a comprehensive food policy for the EU should look, including an indicative roadmap.
In this exploratory opinion, prepared at the request of the European Commission, the EESC provides its contribution to the ongoing reflection on the modernisation and simplification of the CAP post 2020. A reshaped CAP must retain the positive aspects of the current policy and adopt new measures to deal with the new challenges which include societal demands for the delivery of public goods, the EU commitments under the United Nations SDGs, climate change commitments under the COP21, bilateral trade deals and market volatility. A reshaped CAP must also get the correct balance between the needs of the consumer, taxpayers and producers.
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.
Farmers are under great pressure from markets – often through low or strongly fluctuating prices – to adapt by specialising and rationalising their businesses. These processes could lead to a problematic regional concentration and to the abandoning of farming in disadvantaged regions.