EU Council Approves Conclusions on Plan to Safeguard Food Supply
EU farming ministers today approved conclusions on a plan to protect the EU’s food supply system against future threats. The contingency plan for food supply and food security was developed by the EU Commission as part of the Farm to Fork strategy.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of Europe’s food chain to severe supply challenges. While existing measures under the common agricultural policy and other existing EU policies helped mitigate the worst shortages and speed up recovery, the need to plan for future crises quickly became apparent.
In its conclusions, the EU Council welcomed the plan and recognized the need to future-proof Europe’s food system against potential risks. Ministers agreed that the lessons learned from COVID-19 should inform the EU’s approach to future disasters.
In particular, the importance of the internal market was stressed, with member states arguing that cross-border mobility of people, goods, services and capital should be maintained in the event of a crisis. Moreover, they voiced their support for the creation of a permanent mechanism to oversee Europe’s level of preparedness for threats to food security.
Ministers also recognised the need to strengthen and build on existing tools for dealing with food security issues, rather than overlapping with them. They highlighted the importance of effective communication with stakeholders and the wider public to combat disinformation and maintain public confidence.
Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian Minister for Agriculture said, “These conclusions reflect member states’ commitment to safeguarding Europe’s food supply against potential threats. By building on the lessons learned during the pandemic, we can ensure that our response to future crises is coordinated at EU level and allows for continued movement of people, goods and services across borders.”
With the publication of the Farm to Fork strategy, the Commission announced its intention to adopt specific measures to protect the EU’s food supply against threats such as the recent pandemic, extreme weather events, animal diseases, energy shortages, or disruptions in trade relations. The aim of these measures is to ensure that Europeans have access to safe, varied and nutritious food at all times, including during a period of crisis.
On 12 November 2021 the Commission published a communication outlining the steps it would take to put in place a contingency plan to ensure food security in Europe. These include the creation of a European food security crisis preparedness and response mechanism (EFSCM), to be triggered in the event of a crisis. An expert group made up of member state specialists, relevant stakeholders and representatives of non-EU countries with close ties to the EU’s food chain will meet periodically to ensure that the EU is fully prepared for potential food supply challenges.
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