This opinion deals with three of four megatrends at the heart of the new Commission priorities: climate change, biodiversity loss and globalisation. While the European Green Deal will result in higher environmental standards with, for instance, stricter climate change targets, it is important that all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are not undermining these improvements by contributing to deforestation or biodiversity loss in other countries. As one of the world's largest importer of energy, agricultural goods and raw materials, the EU has contributed to deforestation and biodiversity loss in other countries.
Improving the food supply chain - Related Opinions
The own-initiative opinion aims to analyse the link between current food systems and diet-related diseases; identify policies, tools and instruments that are needed to foster healthier diets both on the supply and demand side, for example sustainable dietary guidelines, sustainable food labelling schemes, education modules in school curricula, information campaigns, specific agricultural schemes (such as the EU school food scheme), food product reformulation, etc.; highlight examples of good practices at national and local level - including civil society and business initiatives; contribute to the debate on the implementation of food-related SDGs and in the context of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition; provide recommendations for future EU action.
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.
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.
The opinion aims to present a detailed analysis of the current state of commercial relations between food suppliers and the large retail sector, it also intends to put forward arguments demonstrating that the traditional concept of contractual freedom sometimes invoked by those opposing the regulation of commercial relations is, in practice, largely obsolete.