A federal strategy for sustainable, safe and healthy food for all Europeans

Resolution submitted by: JEF Political Commission 2 – Internal European Affairs.
Adopted by the online Federal Committee (FC Home) on 25 October 2020.
Amended and re-adopted by the Federal Committee in Malta on 19 March 2023.

JEF Europe,

  • Recognising the historical significance of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the European project, as the historically most funded policy area that still makes up one of the biggest budgetary posts, and can have an oversized impact on the EU’s overall sustainability goals;
  • Recalling its resolution ‘Environment does not stop at the borders’, affirming the inherently cross-border nature of the environment and the interdependence of environmental challenges with economic and social systems in a globalised world;
  • Convinced that Europe needs a federal-level approach to food policy, that ensures an equitable, secure and sustainable food supply and a harmonised single market in food products;
  • Underlining that such an approach could become a green and sustainable model for food systems worldwide and contribute to greater and more ambitious cooperation among countries in key areas such as animal welfare, the use of pesticides and the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR);
  • Alarmed by the fact that European natural resources are being degraded at an unprecedented rate, leading to almost half of Europe’s native trees and more than 1,500 of its animal species being threatened with extinction [1];
  • Disappointed that the world is not on track to achieve any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets for 2020, according to a recent UN review [2];
  • Underlining the fact that the agriculture sector is responsible for 10% of total European greenhouse gas emissions, while food accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global emissions;
  • Recognising that some practices relating to food production and consumption for European consumers have a huge impact globally, which should be factored into policy decisions;
  • Regrets the increasing use of intensive monoculture agriculture in European food production;
  • Convinced that Europe needs to invest more in the education and support of young farmers to make the agriculture sector more attractive and accessible to diverse groups through awareness raising initiatives and training on how to benefit from financial incentives made available, as out of the EU’s total land area, only 6% is managed by farmers younger than 35;
  • Concerned that high rates of imports of feed products such as soy used to feed European livestock, contributes to the deforestation of rainforests;
  • Alarmed by the overuse of pesticides and nutrient fertilisers such as phosphorus and nitrogen that deteriotate the ecosystems, including soil and ground water quality, at the local and regional level; and that endanger animals and insects living in these ecosystems;
  • Disapproving of the overuse of antibiotics in terrestrial and aquatic industrial livestock contributing to antimicrobial resistance;
  • Underlining that every year 420,000 people die and 600 million fall ill from eating unsafe food, whereas the majority develop diarrhoeal diseases [3];
  • Concerned by the increased trade in live animals and their transportation conditions, despite the ambitions agreed to by the international community in the CITES agreement;
  • While also welcoming the newly established animal transport inquiry committee in the European Parliament, whose objective is to investigate the implementation of animal transport Regulation EC 1/2005 in favour of ensuring animal welfare in Europe;
  • Recalling that the European Climate Law proposal adopted by the European Parliament set legally binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets of the agriculture sector of 40% by 2030;
  • Alarmed by the increasing rate of contagious diseases that spread between animals and humans (so called zoonoses);
  • Convinced that vertical farming has huge potential for releasing current agricultural space to be used for more nature and biodiversity;

JEF Europe therefore,

  1. Calls for a common strategy on European food that ensures safe and sustainable food by means of an inclusive, transparent and agricultural support-scheme;
  1. Declares that European agriculture must shift towards regenerative practices;
  1. Believes that the CAP funding model must be reformed within the framework of the European Green Deal, in particular with the targets from the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies in mind, while maintaining an EU-wide approach;
  1. Promotes the establishment of the European Food Policy Council under the auspices of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) with an advisory function on EU food policy issues with equal respect to agriculture, environment, health and nutrition, and as a stakeholder to the European Commission’s framework on a sustainable food system (FSFS) that is currently being prepared;
  1. Calls for a Vice President of the Commission for Sustainable Food Policy to lead the group of Commissioners for Agriculture, Environment, Health and Nutrition and Consumer Safety;
  1. Urges the introduction of financial incentives for regenerative practices (e.g. payment for ecosystem services) and the removal of subsidies and quotas for those practices that lead to loss of biodiversity, water depletion and land degradation, through transparent and equitable support for farmers;
  1. Calls upon the Commission and Member States to ensure effective transparency and youth stakeholder inclusion in the EU CAP negotiations and national processes for the preparation of strategic plans;
  1. Expects a higher proportion of direct support payments targeted at young farmers, complemented by financial support under rural development and measures facilitating access to land and land transfers, the current scheme is not enough to attract significantly more young farmers;
  1. Stresses the importance of supporting alternative agricultural business models, such as short and direct supply chains and consumer co-operatives, as well as reducing the density of livestock;
  1. Expects that the sector invests in the opportunities presented by technology to create direct channels with consumers in order to shorten supply chains and promote regional production, for instance through social network platforms;
  1. Calls for a European-level fight against food inequality that ensures that
    the same quality of food is available and affordable to all Europeans;
  1. Demands that there be a significant increase in funding to be earmarked for organic farming and that the Commission provides technical assistance to farmers on how to achieve EU-level certifications until at least 2030;
  1. Expects the EU institutions to commit to a successful revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive; and to fulfill the demands of over one million Europeans (in the European Citizen Initiative “Save the bees”) to half the use of pesticides by 2035;
  1. Calls for setting targets for the share of polyculture cultivation, conservation agroforestry and permanent cover crops, in order to achieve the goals set out in the protect European biodiversity strategy and the pollinators initiative;
  1. Expects the EU and Member States to encourage and educate European consumers to reduce food waste at home and commit the industry to cut food waste by 50% by 2030 in all parts of the food chain;
  1. Calls upon food industry players to minimise the use of non-recyclable plastic food packaging and find circular alternatives for plastic packaging;
  1. Encourages the commission to promote dietary changes towards more locally sourced, seasonal and plant-based food through consumer information campaigns and by providing consumer guidance on alternative sources of protein;
  1. Promotes the establishment of an EU wide label for products to indicate the level of animal welfare and the ecological footprint, while expanding the nutrient information on meat products, warning of the maximum recommended daily meat intake, the label should be transparent and easily accessible to consumers, while acknowledging the need for aditional funding to help out smaller firms with the added bunderies of a higher level of scrutiny;
  1. Demands that animal sentience considerations are integral to all CAP policy and legislative objectives, with Member States committing to phasing out the practice of caging wild animals as an important first step;
  1. Expects that meat imports meet the EU’s animal welfare standards and ecological footprint, that export of live farmed animals outside Europe to be banned, and that this should be a precondition for all trade in animal products and become part of WTO guidelines;
  1. Calls for action to rapidly reduce the usage of antibiotics in livestock farming, while combating the spread of diseases in the meat industry;
  1. Urges the EU to fund vertical farming on at least equal terms as traditional farming, but also urges the EU and the member states to support the development of more vertical farms in order to free up traditional farmland to give it back to nature.