The Green Deal’s sustainable food systems strategies and the lack of coherence for development


This opinion identifies certain PCD issues linked to the European Green Deal. It looks more specifically at strategies linked to sustainable food systems, in particular the “Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system”. The introduction recalls that the transition of food systems in Europe is a central element of the European Green Deal, which is first and foremost an internal European strategy.

However, the presentation of the issues addressed by the opinion shows in point 2 that the objectives of the Green Deal are linked to global issues and cannot be thought of in a European vacuum. It also shows that the lack of coherence between different policies could even call into question the objective of promoting sustainable food systems. The decisions taken as part of the Green Deal may affect third countries or have an impact – positive or negative – on these countries. The choices made have and will have consequences in Europe, but also on third countries. Achieving the objectives of the Green Deal therefore also depends on the efforts that European players make beyond Europe’s borders.

Hence the recommendations of the CCPD-ABCO in point 3 on the importance of embedding the Green Deal into a broader geopolitical vision ensuring agricultural policies that guarantee the right to food within and outside the EU while respecting planetary limits. These recommendations emphasise the need to develop an ambitious framework respecting Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) in the transition of European food systems, in particular by taking the following actions: 3.1 Strengthen internal coherence within the European Union to achieve the objectives of transition to sustainable food systems; 3.2 Promote their transition, taking into account the specific contexts and challenges of countries in the South; 3.3 Place the European Green Deal and the transition of food systems in a multilateral, coherent and accountable framework. The recommendations include measures that should be taken in the short term and processes to be initiated in the longer term. To strengthen the PCD of the Green Deal, the Council stresses the importance of considering the recommendations as complementary, interdependent, and indivisible.

The Council is of the opinion that Belgium must work during the Belgian Presidency of the European Council to ensure that the European Union promotes, in the short term:

  • The elimination of policies that contradict the objectives of the Green Deal, such as the production of first-generation biofuels, the production and export of pesticides banned for use in Europe and the sale of agricultural products below their production costs (A.1.);
  • The reinforcement of the knowledge in alternatives to the least sustainable agricultural models and the impact of European measures on developing countries (B.1.);
  • The establishment of a separate financial framework for partner countries to support their transition towards sustainable food systems (B.2.);
  • The inclusion of special and differential measures in trade agreements to encourage the development of solutions adapted to the contexts and living conditions of local stakeholders, in support of nourishing, resilient and equitable food systems. (C.3.)
  • The defence and integration at multilateral and plurilateral levels of the measures needed to regulate agricultural markets (C.4.)

Point 4 of the opinion justifies the need for such actions to promote the internal and external coherence of public policies that have an impact on the objectives of the Green Deal. Given the urgency of integrating the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) into Green Deal policies, the CCPD-ABCO Council sees the Belgian Presidency of the European Council as an opportunity to open this debate.

This opinion was adopted by the Advisory Council on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) on 13 July 2023. The original drafting language is French.