Today, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered her annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Civil society had been long awaiting this speech, as attacks against the EU Green Deal intensified over the last months with conservative political groups and industry lobbies going on a crusade against any EU green policy.
Slow Food welcomes von der Leyen’s acknowledgment of farmers’ hard work to provide the EU with food, and her emphasis on the key role played by biodiversity and ecosystem services to our very survival. Yet, we are highly concerned about the complete absence of any mention about the transition to sustainable food systems which is a major contributor to climate change, the public health and biodiversity crises, and which is failing citizens and farmers alike.
Madeleine Coste, Director of Advocacy at Slow Food, comments: “We can no longer accept that the future of the EU Green Deal and the much-needed transition towards sustainable food systems, which will ensure Europe’s long-term food security, depend on political parties’ agenda and private vested interests.”
While the EU Commission’s letter of intent mentions that the measures listed will be ‘detailed and complemented’ in the 2024 work program, we can only worry about the fate of the EU Farm to Fork.
In her address to the European Parliament, Mrs. von der Leyen announced her intention to “launch a strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture in the EU”. Unlike what happened with the EU’s failed Common Agricultural Policy, this dialogue must include small-scale farmers and civil society on an equal footing to all other stakeholders.
Unlike what industry lobbies and conservative policy makers would like us to believe, Europe does not need to produce more food. But we need to produce it in a sustainable way and support farmers in their transition. In the past months, civil society has been repeatedly calling on the EU Commission to stand the course and publish key commitments of the Green Deal, such as the revision of the Animal Welfare Legislation, the EU Sustainable Food Systems Law, and demanding the EU Parliament to support the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation.
We now turn to the EU Commission’s 2024 work program, in the hope that sustainable farming will feature explicitly, and that Mrs. von der Leyen will not completely yield to all agro-industry’s demands.