Stakeholder Workshop on the Sustainable EU Food System Initiative
4 NOVEMBER 2022
FRUCOM participated in the Stakeholder Workshop on the Sustainable EU Food System Initiative (dedicated to Economic Operators on 18 October, which was purported to focus on Trade, transport and logistics, wholesale, and retail, food services, and financial services providers). It was the last of the seven workshops organised under the stakeholder outreach by the contractors.
Following a presentation by the contractors, Ecorys and Arcadia International, with introduced the Sustainable EU Food System Initiative and the various policy options, participants were invited to discuss firstly sustainability definition, general objectives, and principles of the FSFS initiative, and then joined breakout session to discuss the following points:
Ø Sustainability requirements for foods produced or placed on the Union market and related food operations
Ø Sustainability labelling
Ø Sustainable Public procurement
FRUCOM highlighted, in line with its response to the public consultation on the FSFS initiative, that:
- The cost and resource burden to operators should be costed and factored into the initiative, with support (financial and time wise) from Member States and the EU to help operators, particularly SMEs, to comply with any new legislative obligations.
- Many initiatives have already been proposed which achieve the broader goals set out under the FSFS, including the corporate sustainability due diligence directive, the forced labour product ban regulation, the deforestation free products regulation, and mirror clauses where relevant (e.g. in relation to certain pesticide measures such as is proposed with neonicotinoids) which can be part of, and help achieve, sustainable food systems. Therefore, the Commission should avoid duplication and burdening operators which more general proposals but rather should support those initiatives which are already coming through the pipeline and scale these up to cover more products.
- It is important for the EU to also consider the wider impacts of the FSFS on trade with third countries, taking into account the need to ensure that the EU has access to imports that are needed to meet market demand and ensure food security, as well as the critical role of exports markets and revenues for many agri-food jobs.
- Rather than proposing new initiatives that could lead to WTO retaliation, and antagonising trade partners with whom there are already frameworks for collaboration for sustainable agri-food production and trade (e.g. GSP and GSP plus arrangement and FTA Trade and Sustainability chapters), the EU should focus on engagement which is WTO compatible and promotes current channels of cooperation and rewards partnerships with third countries.
- On labelling, any initiative which requires the cooperation of producers and data from producers, including producers from third countries, should be considered very sensitively as producers are increasingly becoming reluctant to share data.
Amongst some of the points raised by other participants were:
- The need to keep definitions of sustainability as broad as possible;
- Commission should ensure any proposals are enforceable and that there is compliance, to avoid duplication;
- There is already a well-known and recognised label for organics, and a new sustainability label will dilute the value of the organic label;
- There should be an EU framework for sustainability label, but with the options available to operators to use whichever they prefer;
- Commission should support consumer education around sustainability labels;
- The PEF approach to defining sustainability for different product groups should be avoided at all costs.
Notes Framework for Sustainable Food Systems Stakeholders workshop Meeting 18.10
Background Document FSFS Stakeholder Workshops FINAL
FSFS WS7 Economic Operators - Programme and Questions
Contact: Lebo Mofolo, email@example.com