EU Food Policy Coalition Reports Four Priorities for SFS
A new report from the EU Food Policy Coalition outlines four priorities and policy recommendations that the EU's Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) framework legislation should prioritise in order to achieve a shift towards a sustainable food system.
The EU Food Policy Coalition's report builds upon the recommendations put forth in a joint letter addressed to President von der Leyen in February 2023, and provides specific priorities and policy recommendations that should be included in the upcoming legislative framework.
The first priority is to take a food systems approach. The report argues that the SFS Law should aim to enable a just, ambitious, and systemic transition to sustainable food systems that operate within planetary boundaries. To achieve this, the SFS Law must recognise the complexity of the food system and evaluate food sustainability by considering the entire system from production to consumption.
The second priority is to set a new governance framework for the EU food system. The report suggests that the SFS Law should lay down definitions, guiding principles, and overarching objectives for the EU food system, binding all food-related laws and policies, including the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies (CAP and CFP). The law should also define competence sharing among EU institutions and promote food democracy to address institutional power concentration in the food sector.
The third priority is to develop enabling food environments. The report suggests that the dominant policy approaches to shifting dietary patterns have so far been based on the "consumer responsibility narrative," which relies predominantly on improving information about food products and expecting consumer behavior to change accordingly. However, this approach is ineffective and morally questionable. The SFS Law should introduce strong EU-level measures on public and private procurement and marketing, which are key levers of change.
The fourth priority is to ensure strong accountability and fairness throughout the food chain. The report argues that food is generally treated as a commodity instead of a common good, with private interests having a disproportionate influence on what is produced and sold on the EU market. The concentration of power in agrifood value chains and unsustainable trade policies hinder the transition to sustainable models of food production in the EU. The SFS Law should establish a clear regime of corporate responsibility for actors in the middle of the food chain, bring the EU's food trade policy within a socially and environmentally safe operating space, and provide strong enforcement mechanisms.
Overall, the report argues that our current food systems are putting an unsustainable strain on the planet and making us increasingly vulnerable. It is essential to build a resilient food system that can resist external shocks. EU policies have a key role to play in transforming our food systems for long-term benefits for people and the planet. The SFS Law is a crucial opportunity for the EU to show leadership by prioritising the acceleration of this transition and the four priorities highlighted in the report are essential building blocks for this transformation. It is time for policy to follow science, listen to citizens, and confront vested interests to steer our food systems in a new direction, benefiting people, animals, and the planet.
Read the report