Europe’s shift to a sustainable food system will involve huge changes in the way we produce and consume food. According to this European Environment Agency (EEA) report, achieving this depends on ambitious and coherent EU policies to promote and guide innovation and behavioural change, phase out harmful practices and ensure a just transition.
An ambitious EU legislative framework for a sustainable food system, due to be developed this year, has the potential to help Europe deliver on the European Green Deal and achieve its sustainability goals. In support of this, the EEA report 'Transforming Europe's food system – Assessing the EU policy mix' analyses the diverse EU policy currently shaping Europe’s food system in the light of the latest research into the dynamics and governance of sustainability transitions.
Assessing the EU food system policy mix
The EEA report addresses two key questions. First, is the current EU policy mix governing Europe's food system consistent with the European Green Deal’s transformative objectives? Second, if not, how could it be made more genuinely transformative? The assessment explores whether and how the EU policy mix is stimulating the emergence and spread of new ways of producing and consuming food; whether it is driving the phase-out of unsustainable practices and enabling socially just transitions; and whether EU policies are coherent and create a clear direction for innovation and system change. What the report finds is that, despite the advances achieved under the EU’s farm to fork strategy, the existing EU policy mix is characterised by gaps and inconsistencies that limit the potential to achieve transformative change. But it also points to many ways to address these limitations – for example by engaging a broader range of actors as innovators, providing stronger support for upscaling of sustainable practices, promoting changes in behaviours and norms more effectively, navigating resistance from interest groups and engaging society in articulating shared visions for a sustainable food system.
The report identifies many opportunities to make EU policies more transformative. Fully realising their potential will require a strategic and coherent approach.