Farming ministers today approved conclusions on a plan to protect the EU’s food supply system against future threats. The contingency plan for food supply and food security, developed by the Commission as part of the farm to fork strategy, will help the EU face up to challenges including extreme weather events, plant and animal health issues, and shortages of key inputs such as fertilisers, energy and labour.
In its conclusions, the Council welcomes the proposed contingency plan and recognises the need to future-proof Europe’s food system against potential risks. While existing mechanisms managed to mitigate the worst effects of the recent pandemic, ministers agree that the lessons learned from COVID-19 should inform the EU’s approach to future disasters going forward.
In particular, the member states stress the importance of the internal market, and argue that cross-border mobility of people, goods, services and capital should be maintained in the event of a crisis. Moreover, they support the creation of a permanent mechanism to oversee Europe’s level of preparedness for threats to food security.
Ministers also recognise the need to strengthen and build on existing tools for dealing with food security issues, rather than overlapping with them, and to respect national competences in line with the subsidiarity principle. Finally, they highlight the importance of effective communication with stakeholders and the wider public to combat disinformation and maintain public confidence.
These conclusions reflect member states’ commitment to safeguarding Europe’s food supply against potential threats. By building on the lessons learned during the pandemic, we can ensure that our response to future crises is coordinated at EU level and allows for continued movement of people, goods and services across borders.
Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian Minister for Agriculture
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of Europe’s food chain to severe supply challenges. While existing measures under the common agricultural policy and other relevant EU policies helped mitigate the worst shortages and speed up recovery, the need to plan for future crises quickly became apparent.
With the publication of the farm to fork strategy, the Commission announced its intention to adopt specific measures to protect the EU’s food supply against threats such as the recent pandemic, extreme weather events, animal diseases, energy shortages, or disruptions in trade relations. The aim of these measures is to ensure that Europeans have access to safe, varied and nutritious food at all times, including during a period of crisis.
On 12 November 2021 the Commission published a communication outlining the steps it would take to put in place a contingency plan to ensure food security in Europe. These include the creation of a European food security crisis preparedness and response mechanism (EFSCM), to be triggered in the event of a crisis. An expert group made up of member state specialists, relevant stakeholders and representatives of non-EU countries with close ties to the EU’s food chain will meet periodically to ensure that the EU is fully prepared for potential food supply challenges.