- Composition of the study group
- Administrator / Assistant in charge: Gaia BOTTONI / Luca PITRONE
The corona pandemic has shown the fragility of our system and the importance of food security. During the first weeks of the pandemic markets were in shock and there were reports of hoarding by European consumers. While supermarkets remained open, supply lines came under pressure. This was in part caused by the closure of borders. Not only did the closure hamper transport of goods, it also made it more difficult for seasonal workers to travel and many farmers still depend on seasonal workers to plant and harvest crops and to tend animals.
At the same time, many farm shops reported an increase in demand, also online. However, many more farmers and growers suffered because of the closure of food services and garden centres. The retailers, from their side, reported a record turnover strengthening their buying powers in international markets. Brexit worsened the situation in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, causing the breaking up of supply chains.
This own-initiative opinion looks at the issue of food security and sustainability in a context where multilateralism is more than ever under pressure. It aims to explore the concept of "strategic autonomy" for Europe in relation to future food security and sustainability and to provide forward-looking civil society's views and policy recommendations. Strategic autonomy is to be seen as an opportunity for the EU to ensure the security of food supply and to promote its food sustainability standards, particularly in the context of the European Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The EU should safeguard its capacity to set high sustainability and climate standards. As highlighted in previous opinions, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recognises the importance and value of rules-based trade operating on a level playing field and the potential for all future EU trade deals to incorporate the Green Deal Farm to fork and Biodiversity strategies as global standards on sustainability.