With a workshop and roundtable discussion, Slow Food Europe took part in the European Week of Regions and Cities, the four-day event, taking place in Brussels, Belgium every year. On October 9, a transnational workshop was organized to present experiences and policy recommendations of three-year-long project, “Slow Food-CE: Culture, Heritage, Identity and Food,” which was designed to improve cities’ capacities to showcase and enhance the value of their gastronomic heritage. Meanwhile, in the evening, various stakeholders were invited to a roundtable discussion to talk about short food supply chains.
On October 8th, Slow Food Europe along with other non-governmental organizations, decision-makers, and citizens of the European Union, gathered in Brussels to celebrate the end of a historic European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age.” During this12-month period, 170 organizations collected 1,617,405 signatures, sending a clear statement: the European Commission would have to take into account a strongly supported demand to eliminate cages for farmed animals across the EU.
For the second year in a row, Slow Food Europe joins the European Days of Action for Good Food Good Farming, which during the month of October will take place across Europe. Different Slow Food networks are organizing more than 15 events in Western, Central and Nordic European countries such as Italy, Romania, Latvia, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Finland, and Croatia. The Good Food Good Farming movement unites more than 300 European organizations who joined forces to demand that decision-makers implement food and farming systems that support small farmers and rural livelihoods, as well as protect the soil, water, ecosystems, and biodiversity.
With the new European Commission promising to implement a European Green Deal, the expectations are high for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to truly address the needs of the environment. The Green Deal should include biodiversity protection strategy and the reduction of the use of pesticides – vital steps to stop the decline of pollinators. On September 21, the second day of the Cheese Festival in Bra, speakers from the European Commission and several European non-governmental organizations discussed how the CAP reform fits into the narrative around the protection of the environment, biodiversity, and sustainable food systems.
A study conducted by Slow Food reveals that the European quality product certification process lacks a comprehensive evaluation, which has led to extremely diverse results and opened the door to the large industry players to market their food as quality products. On September 20, a conference on the quality product certification was organized at the Cheese Festival in Bra, Italy, where European Union officials, representatives of European non-governmental organizations and Slow Food producers discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the European system of geographic indications.
The 12th edition of Cheese, the international event dedicated to raw milk cheeses and artisanal dairy products, will bring topics widely discussed at the European level to the heart of Piedmont, in Bra, Italy, where the bi-annual event will take place from September 20 to 23. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and its impact on bees and other pollinators, and the limitations of quality product certification will be among the main topics discussed with European Union officials, representatives of European non-governmental organizations and Slow Food producers.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age” was closed last night, celebrating over 1.5 million signatures gained during a 12-month period. The initiative which aims to end the use of cages for farm animals across Europe marks one of the most significant days for animal farming and demonstrates the importance of citizens’ voice to the EU decision-making process. Slow Food Europe has been among 170 environmental, consumer rights and animal protection groups, which joined forces for a collaborative effort to make a much-needed change in animal farming.
It has been a few months since the European elections took place in May; however, the formation of the new leadership of EU institutions is far from being done. In September, when newly elected Members of Parliament (MEPs) and recently approved Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will return to Brussels, they will have an immense task to form and approve the new Commission. Meanwhile, the new Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) is expected to determine the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.
The European Days of Action for Good Food Good Farming are just around the corner. In October, Slow Food Europe will join forces with other civil society groups across Europe to demand of decision-makers that they implement food and farming systems which support small farmers and rural livelihoods, and protect our soil, water, ecosystems, and biodiversity. The first joint Good Food Good Farming action took place last October and saw the emergence of more than 60 events across 19 European countries.
It has been one year since July 25, 2018, when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that organisms obtained from New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs), such as CRISPR, must fall under the already existing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) directive and must thus be subject to thorough risk assessment procedures and labelling. Industry representatives and several Member States of the European Union are currently putting EU decision-makers under pressure to exclude NPBTs from the existing EU regulation. Slow Food Europe is certain this would undermine the precautionary principle and sign the end of consumer choice to eat GM-free food.