Today the European Commission presented its “Future of Food and Farming” Communication, which sets the tone for discussions on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Despite mentioning many of the issues championed by civil society, the Communication does not propose any practical measures capable of facilitating transition towards truly sustainable food systems.
The Communication fails to consider the food system holistically and promotes business as usual. Despite mentioning “The Future of Food and Farming” in its title, the Communication focuses on farming only. Despite references to results-driven approaches, the Commission maintains full support for the current direct payments system, based on entitlements and hectare-based payments.
The document stresses the importance of modern technology, which is useful only insofar as it is accessible to everyone, supports food sovereignty and tackles the root causes of the issues at stake. Technologies that aim to provide quick fixes and silver bullet technical solutions to address the impact of climate change will not deliver real, lasting solutions.
The Communication entirely neglects the role of agroecological food systems and their principles: agro-biodiversity, lower dependency on external inputs, stimulating social relationships and short-supply chains to build healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods in the long-term.
In short, the proposals made in the Communication do not support a transition towards sustainable food systems and do not justify spending almost 40% of the EU budget on the CAP.
Tweaking practices will not provide long-term solutions. Slow Food demands a shift towards a Common Food Policy that embraces the whole food system: there is a need to analyze and regulate the food system with a comprehensive and coherent approach.
The legislative proposal on the CAP will be presented after the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework, expected in the first half of 2018, that sets the limits for the annual general budgets of the European Union. The budgetary discussions will have a significant role to play in the future of the CAP, especially as the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will result in a loss of net contributions to its budget of over 10 billion euros.