In its response to the public consultation on EU promotion policy for agricultural products, EPHA calls for a full revision of the policy.
The current objective of promotion policy is to “enhance the competitiveness of the Union agricultural sector”, a narrow aim which is not compatible with the new framework for food and agricultural policy created by the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy. A focus on competitiveness alone cannot advance a comprehensive sustainable food systems transition, and could lead to trade-offs with other EU policy objectives, including those on human and planetary health.
The current policy is not consistent with, among others:
- the European Commission’s obligations under the EU Treaty (Article 168(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states that “A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities”);
- the objective to tackle noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, cancers and type-2 diabetes, as committed to under the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 3 “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”) and the upcoming Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (both alcohol use and unhealthy diet are key risk factors for NCDs).*
EPHA urges the European Commission to undertake a full revision of the current promotion policy to ensure it contributes the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy, which, among others, highlights the importance of a dietary transition towards greater consumption of whole-grains, fruit and vegetables, pulses and nuts, while reducing the intake of meats, sugars, salt and fats.
Building a bridge between supply and demand, promotion policy should be used to create changes in demand to provide producers with market incentives that are consistent with a transition towards a nutrition-sensitive agriculture, and environmentally, socially and animal welfare-friendly food systems.
In its response, EPHA stresses that a change in purpose must be accompanied by a reallocation of funding priorities.
New funding priorities
• Promotion funding should be dedicated to:
− Health-enhancing products that are currently under-consumed, especially fresh or minimally processed fruit and vegetables, whole grains, pulses and nuts.
− Products from organic agriculture and, subject to the availability of credible certification systems, other models using sustainability-enhancing production methods. Only those animal-sourced products falling under this category should be eligible for support, and a maximum ceiling should be established for this type of products.
• Products with a geographical indication (GI) should no longer be automatically considered as priority products for promotion.
• Alcoholic drinks should be excluded from eligibility for promotion support.
• Promotion funding should focus on the EU internal market and shift away from its current priority of promoting exports.
• Provisions should be made to support projects that promote the development of local and/or direct supply chain models.