27 June, Brussels -The European Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission have reached an agreement on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013 (1). The new EU Farming Policy was intended to lead to far-reaching changes: making direct payments fairer and greener, strengthening the position of farmers within the food production chain and making the CAP more efficient and more transparent.
In 2010, the European Commission announced its vision for "the CAP towards 2020" with the inclusion of public health and healthy nutrition warmly welcomed by the public health community. However, over almost three years of tough negotiations and countless debates between stakeholders this truly progressive vision was significantly watered down, and many of its ‘greening’ and ‘pro-health’ provisions dropped on account of reinforced status quo or ‘business as usual’ for an industrialised European farming sector.
“These decisions represent the EU’s missed opportunity to respond to the challenges of food and nutrition security and the rising epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases (2)”, said Susanne Løgstrup, chair of the European Public Health and Agriculture Consortium (EPHAC) – an alliance of public health organisations advocating for a healthy and sustainable Common Agricultural Policy in the EU (3). “We are concerned that this newly struck deal on what and how our food is to be produced will do little to support the EU’s overall objective of promoting inclusive growth by improving the nutritional health outcomes of its population”, she added.
Unlike the recommendations issued by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its latest State of Food and Agriculture 2013 report: “Food Systems for Better Nutrition” (4), the agreed CAP is unlikely to put better nutrition for all at the centre of farming and food systems. On a positive note, we warmly welcome the continued support to the EU School Fruit Scheme – which EPHAC has endorsed since its inception (5). We also welcome the agreement not to re-introduce direct support to tobacco growing.
Notes to the editor:
(2) Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), overweight and obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and mental health disorders pose the greatest threat to health and are a major barrier to sustainable economic and inclusive growth in Europe. Diet, along with physical activity, alcohol and tobacco consumption is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for NCDs.
(3) EPHAC is a Brussels-based alliance of civil society and public health organisations advocating for a healthy, sustainable Common Agriculture Policy. EPHAC members are European Alcohol Policy Alliance, European Heart Network (EHN), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and Sustain.
(4) The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s report the ’State of Food and Agriculture 2013: Food systems for better nutrition’argues that reducing economic and social costs due to malnutrition (under- and over-nutrition) must begin with improved nutritional security put at the heart of agriculture and food production systems. While the traditional role of agriculture is ’just’ to produce food and generate income along the whole supply chain ("from farm to fork"), agriculture and the entire food system – from inputs and production, through to processing, storage, transport and retailing, to consumption – can contribute much more to the eradication of malnutrition and its economic and social consequences.
(5) The scheme, agreed by the Council in 2008 and fully supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, is an important EU-wide initiative providing fruit and vegetables to schoolchildren. Its main objective is to increase the low consumption of fruit and vegetables among children by durably increasing the share of those products in their diets when their eating habits are being formed.
Javier Delgado-Rivera (email@example.com) +32 22 3338 76