The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought war back to the European continent and has made the European Union rethink its domestic and international strategies and policies. It has put food security and the resilience of the global food system back at the centre of the political agenda, on equal footing with energy security, defence and the fight against climate change.
The war has aggravated an already tenuous situation in the agri-food sector, which is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. It has led to an increase in food, energy and input prices, and contributed to spiralling inflation. It has had a particularly negative impact on consumers, the most vulnerable part of society, and on farmers, who saw their production costs skyrocket and their income shrink.
However, the current crisis is just another factor demonstrating the fragility of the system on which our food security is based. The European agricultural sector should not be overly dependent on imports of fertilisers, gas and feed from third countries. To overcome these structural problems, the EU must invest in the resilience and sustainability of the agri-food sector. We need flexibility in the short term to overcome the current crisis, but in the long term we have to continue with the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda.
We need flexibility in the short term to overcome the current crisis, but in the long term we have to continue with the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda
In the long run, resilience can be achieved in part through the implementation – in a coherent and concerted way – of the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy, which will contribute to the transition towards more sustainable food systems.
Sustainability and food security complement one another and should go hand in hand. Not only will the move to a sustainable food system increase the resilience of the agri-food sector, but it will also create new opportunities and sources of income for farmers. Carbon farming, eco-schemes and other agri-environmental measures have to be long-term initiatives in order to ensure the predictability of income.
To tackle this issue in the short term, the EU must urgently come forward with an integrated and comprehensive approach to food security, bringing together economic, trade, environmental, international development and regional perspectives.
The costs will be much higher to react ex post facto than to intervene early on. If we want to avert destabilisation in other countries, food poverty, famine and social and political unrest, the EU has to come up with a holistic and cohesive vision to ensure food security, both in the bloc and at the international level. Furthermore, food security is a key element for ensuring the EU’s strategic autonomy and prosperity.
With these issues in mind, we are currently working in the European Parliament on a framework for this integrated discussion to take place, following the model of the Task Force on Food Security set up earlier this year by the Renew group.