The current EU policy framework is not suited to making the transition to more sustainable food systems, in order to ensure the effective implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as of the right to food and the other human rights. In this opinion, the EESC reiterates its call for the development of a comprehensive food policy in the EU, with the aim of providing healthy diets from sustainable food systems, linking agriculture to nutrition and ecosystem services, and ensuring supply chains which safeguard public health for all sections of European society. A comprehensive EU food policy should improve coherence across food-related policy areas, restore the value of food and promote a long-term shift from food productivism and consumerism to food citizenship. The EESC also reiterates that a comprehensive food policy should be complementary to – not replace – a reshaped CAP.
The EESC stresses the need to maintain a culture that values the nutritional and cultural importance of food, as well as its social and environmental impact. In this respect, the rich array of food and regional/local specialities available in the EU is a real asset and, as such, should be further valorised. An increasing number of initiatives are being implemented at regional and local level to support alternative food systems. A comprehensive food policy should build upon, stimulate and develop common governance at all levels – local, regional, national and European. All stakeholders across the food supply chain have a role to play in the development of a comprehensive framework, so as to achieve a fair distribution along the chain.
In order to support the establishment of a comprehensive framework bringing together EU food-related policies, the EESC proposes in the short/medium-term to create a cross-sectorial and inter-institutional task force, involving different Commission DGs and other EU institutions. This task force would be responsible for developing an Action Plan on Food Sustainability, with the aim of helping the EU implement food-related SDGs.
In the longer term, and depending on the task force's conclusions, the EESC encourages the Commission to explore the feasibility of creating a dedicated DG for Food, which would provide a clear centre for EU responsibilities on all food-related policies and be the source of regulation, legislation and enforcement as appropriate.