Slow Food Europe regrets that the priorities of the new Commission President, whose nomination was approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday evening, are not strict and explicit enough to respond to the climate crisis. Ursula von der Leyen, who is going to lead the Commission from this November, did not suggest any changes in Europe’s agricultural policy, which is one of the key drivers for climate change and biodiversity loss. The European Parliament voted in favor for the nomination of von der Leyen by 383 votes to 327 against. She unexpectedly emerged as a candidate for the Commission President after 48 hours of negotiation between leaders of the European Union.
Ahead of the meeting of the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF), Slow Food Europe urges its members to support the implementation of toxicity assessment standards and to take responsibility to effectively protect bees from harmful pesticides. Member States in the PAFF Committee have been procrastinating on a formal EU-wide adoption of bee safety standards, developed in the so-called Bee Guidance Document several years ago. On July 16-17, they are expected to vote on the implementation of the document which would help to halt the usage of bee-killing pesticides.
As the new European Parliament is reaching the final stages of its formation, Slow Food Europe along with other 26 civil society organizations takes this opportunity to approach the newly formed Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). In an open letter, organizations call on 48 Members of the Committee to work towards a fundamentally green and fair reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Civil society groups are expected to meet with the AGRI Committee on Wednesday to address their concerns in person.
By signing a trade agreement with the South American trade bloc Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay), the European Union has missed a chance to stand firm on European principles. Slow Food Europe regrets that the main concerns, earlier expressed by more than 300 organizations over the deteriorating human rights and environmental situation in Brazil have been ignored.
The leaders of the European Union have adopted the EU’s Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024, where the main priorities for the upcoming years were set. Slow Food Europe is pleased to see that climate change and the sustainable future of Europe were brought into the Strategic Agenda as one of the key topics for the next five-year framework. However, the eight-page document did not go into detail on how “a climate neutral, green, fair and social Europe” will be built.
Slow Food Europe and Slow Food Brazil signed an open letter asking the European Union to immediately halt free trade agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay). 340 civil society signatory organizations believe that it is a critical step to take to prevent deteriorating human rights and environmental situation in Brazil. The letter is addressed to presidents of the EU institutions ahead of the ministerial-level meeting next week in Brussels where EU and Mercosur foreign ministers aim to finalize the negotiations.
On 3-7 June, the third international Private Land Conservation workshop was held by the European Private Land Conservation Network (ELCN) in Sighisoara, Romania. The workshop looked at examples of successful cooperative models for private land conservation. Participants discussed how conservationists, landowners, land users, public authorities, and other stakeholders can work together to foster private land conservation. Dessislava Dimitrova representing Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, was one of the invited speakers and explored the links between food culture and land conservation.
There is a growing trend in some countries of the European Union, such as Italy, Greece, France, or Lithuania, to have more accurate food labeling. While Italy has recently imposed mandatory labeling on pasta and rice packaging, asking to indicate the origin of wheat and rice’s place of cultivation, in the majority of EU countries, origin information is largely absent from labeling for milk, dairy products, unprocessed food, and single-ingredient products such as flour or sugar. The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Eat Original. Unmask Your Food”, which Slow Food Europe supports, calls on the European Commission to impose mandatory declarations of origin for all food products to prevent frauds, protect public health and guarantee consumers’ right to information. The ECI was launched last autumn by the Italian farmers union Coldiretti.
As of today, one million EU citizens have signed the End the Cage Age European Citizens Initiative (ECI); the biggest ever political push for farm animal welfare. Slow Food joined forces with over 170 other animal welfare and environmental organizations across the EU to launch the #EndTheCageAge ECI, which aims to end the use of cages for farm animals across the continent. Today marks the collection of one million signatures—a first in the history of farm animal welfare.
The European Elections showed the highest voters’ turnout in 20 years, giving the European Union hope that people still believe in its future. However, the big center-right and center-left blocs in the European Parliament have lost their combined majority. Now, they will have to form a coalition with other political groups, which will likely include the Greens, which bagged record gains in the elections.