EU to put higher expectations on trade partners under ‘Farm to Fork’

The EU will aim to place higher sustainability expectations on its trade partners in terms of food production, according to its new Farm to Fork Strategy.

Revealed on Wednesday, May 20, the strategy outlines that the EU is the biggest importer and exporter of agri-food products in the world.

“The production of commodities can have negative environmental and social impacts in the countries where they are produced,” the strategy says.

Therefore, efforts to tighten sustainability requirements in the EU food system should be accompanied by policies that help to raise standards globally, in order to avoid the externalisation and export of unsustainable practices.

One of the main issues highlighted by the strategy is deforestation and forest degradation.

The document says that the European Commission will present a legislative proposal in 2021, along with other measures, to “avoid or minimise” the placing of products associated with deforestation or forest degradation on the EU market.

The strategy also commits the EU to developing ‘green alliances’ with its trading partners, to cooperate on sustainable food systems.

As well as that, the EU will look to include sustainability ‘chapters’ in its bilateral trade agreements.

“EU trade policy should…obtain ambitious commitments from third countries in key areas such as animal welfare, the use of pesticides and the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” the strategy document said.

It also states: “The EU will strive to promote international standards in the relevant international bodies and encourage the production of agri-food products complying with high safety and sustainability standards.”

Ecosystems

The Farm to Fork Strategy is tied in with the EU’s new Biodiversity Strategy, which was also revealed on Wednesday. As a result, issues related to biodiversity and ecosystems also feature in the ‘Farm to Fork’ document.

The (Farm to Fork) strategy argues for better protection of natural ecosystems, combined with efforts to reduce wildlife trade and consumption. This, the document says, will help “to prevent, and build up resilience to, possible future diseases and pandemics”.

The strategy also states that Covid-19 has “made us acutely aware of the interrelations between our health, ecosystems, supply chains [and] consumption patterns”.