The Council of EU on the Farm to Fork strategy

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The Council prioritises actions for sustainable food systems, find below the conclusions on the Farm to Fork strategy.

On 19th of October 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted a set of conclusions on the Farm to Fork strategyendorsing the goal of developing a European sustainable food system, from production to consumption. The conclusions entail a two-fold political message from the member states:

  • Ensure sufficient and affordable food while contributing to EU climate neutrality by 2050
  • Ensure a fair income and strong support for primary producers.

The unanimous decision reached is a crucial signal and a clear commitment to a sustainable and economically viable agri-food sector. For the first time, the entire food system is taken into account as a whole – from producers to consumers. It is a solid starting point and we are looking forward to working altogether the coming years towards a truly sustainable and fair food system in Europe and beyond.

Says Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture of Germany.

In the conclusions, member states recognise that European food is already a global standard for safety, nutritional value and high quality and, thus, they recognise the importance of promoting sustainability of food systems at a global level.

Comments from Member States

Some positive declarations from Member States can be reported. The importance of supporting local food systems was mentioned by several members, like Slovakia and Croatia. Croatia also mentioned the need to protect the diversity of genetic resources to protect agro-biodiversity. Malta welcomed the text concerning the Fisheries sector. Luxembourg and Finland welcomed the revision of the animal welfare regulation. France said that it will be crucial to arrive to consensus in European legislation in areas like pesticides. France, Spain called for consistency across different policies, like Trade. Spain, Luxembourg and others said that trade agreements with Not-EU countries should set up equitable rules for European producers and those outside EU too.

On labeling, Italy said that nutritional labeling is very sensitive, and more efforts are needed in raising awareness about balanced diets, but not to classify food as good or bad (although they also said that they are in favour of transparent information for consumers). Cyprus found labeling important for healthy and safe diets, so consumers can take reasoned decisions to look at the properties of the products. Spain also mentioned to be in favour of promoting responsible consumption.

However, the ministers express some cautions

The Council calls for scientifically-sound ex-ante impact assessments that have to be the basis of EU legislative proposals under the Farm to Fork strategy. About pesticides, antimicrobials and fertilisers, it asks to continue promoting the prudent and responsible use of in order to produce food sustainably and support the environment at the same time, despite the requests from the environmental sector to reduce drastically or completely quit their use. Finally, ministers call for a level playing field on competitive agri-food markets and compatibility with WTO rules, especially concerned about the competition with non-EU countries. A general request to the Commission is to proceed with impact assessments to evaluate possible major impacts in food security in the EU.

This compromised position can be considered a positive achievement of the German Presidency of the Council.

Nevertheless the main issue remains the coherence with the Common Agriculture Policy. Farm to Fork’s objectives and aspirational targets are, until now, not legally binding. Therefore they can be considered – the Council stressed – only just recommendations for the CAP National Strategic Plans that the Member States will need to prepare in the framework of the new CAP. To reinforce this point, the Member States called for higher flexibility to prepare their CAP strategic plans.

The same week, the Council, voting on the CAP, diluted the environmental and social ambition from 2018 Commission proposal, making it not in line with the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. In response, EUROPARC together with 26 other NGO’s wrote an open letter to President Ursula Von der Leyen urging the Withdrawal of the Commission proposal for the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy


Council Conclusions on the Farm to Fork Strategy, as approved by the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 19 October 2020 can be found here.

The video of the debate can be found here.