EESC: Political Recognition for Consumer Co-ops
Consumer co-operatives recognized by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) as a privileged partner to transition to more sustainable food systems
In an own initiative opinion issued end of last year, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recognized consumer co-operatives as a valuable partner in the transition to more sustainable food systems. The opinion looks at civil society’s contribution to the development of a comprehensive food policy in the European Union. Peter Schmidt, rapporteur of this opinion and member of the EESC section for agriculture, rural development and the environment, aims via this opinion to reiterate EESC’s call for a comprehensive food policy in the EU which encompasses aspects related to sustainable food systems, the environment and public health.
Specifically, this opinion argues that the current EU policy framework is not suited to make the transition to more sustainable food systems, which would have a positive impact on providing healthy diets, linking agriculture to ecosystem services and nutrition, as well as ensuring that supply chains safeguard public health for all Europeans. In addition, the opinion highlights the need to preserve a culture that values the cultural- and nutritional-related aspects of food, as well as its environmental and social impacts.
The opinion further highlights the important role that consumer co-operatives can play in this context by stating that “consumer co-operatives can also play a key role by ensuring a strong connection with the community as well as a social, educational and environmental focus”. The EESC also stresses the importance of regional and local foods, which is also an activity that consumer co-operatives are passionate about.
In order to support the establishment of a comprehensive food policy, the EESC proposes the following measures:
- short-medium term: the creation of a cross-sectorial and inter-institutional task force, involving different European Commission Directorate-Generals and other EU institutions;
- long term: the creation, by the European Commission, of a dedicated DG for FOOD.
The EESC stresses that the 50-year goal for EU food policy should be to promote the transition from food consumerism (characterised by waste) to food citizenship (characterised by care and responsibility).
Euro Coop and its members have always advocated for a responsible approach to food by increasing social awareness of the issue, amongst other measures, aimed at establishing active citizenship on local level. This is why consumer co-operatives fully support the EESC and are fully ready to be part of this transition!