FARM TO FORK NEWS: war in Ukraine hinders F2F and divide institutions

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The war in Ukraine has opened discussions on targets of the Farm to fork strategy, with institutional figures taking opposite sides. Notably, the Commission (Timmermans, Kyriakides) is still defending the objectives of this strategy, arguing that the renewed call on EU independence from, for instance, fertilizers and pesticides imports is very topical and that the F2F will, in fact, help in reaching it. This position is shared by many NGOs and the Greens in the EU Parliament. On the opposite side, several MEPs from the Agri Committee (amongst which its chair, Lins), together with farmers organizations are calling to pause the ambitions of the strategy to give the production reality time to re-adjust to the new market situation. Commissioner for agriculture seemed leaning towards the latter option. 

The Commission, in response to the war, has allowed derogations from sustainability restrictions, such as allowing MS to cultivate fallow lands in environmental protected areas to increase the yields, without critics from environmental organizations. It has also paved the way for more enhanced flexibilities in the approval of the strategic plans tabled by the Member States asking them to take into account the new geopolitical context. In addition, the President of the Commission step up its involvement on the file asking the first executive VP Timmermans to hold on the proposal on pesticides and and biodiversity. 

While the Commission is working on its proposal on the methodology on which the green claims should be based, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) calculations, has raised some concerns from civil society groups, accusing it not to be fit for purpose to assess agricultural products.  

In the meantime, the vote within the European Parliament on the resolution on food security in the context of the war in Ukraine triggered a political debate on the relevance of the Farm to Fork’s objectives. 4 key amendments were tabled but the EPP contesting the principles of the F2F. 2 of them were rejected by a very small majority, 2 others went through including one asking not to implement the 10% Ecological Focused Areas target foreseen in the F2F considering the new context. During another vote, the 25% target for organic farming has also been challenged.

full note available on FE Members’ area