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FoodDrinkEurope outlines roadmap to boost Europe's competitiveness and sustainability
Siân Yates

Siân Yates

27 June 2024

FoodDrinkEurope outlines roadmap to boost Europe's competitiveness and sustainability

FoodDrinkEurope, the organisation representing Europe's food and drink industry, has unveiled a comprehensive plan to guide policymakers in unleashing the competitive potential of the sector while driving sustainability and ensuring food security.


The updated 'Food Investment and Resilience Plan' was launched at FoodDrinkEurope's #FoodFuture Ideas Fest and Summer Party in Brussels, attracting over 800 stakeholders to discuss the future of the industry.


"The food and drink sector is vital to the EU's ambitions, driving growth, sustainability, and food security," said Dirk Jacobs, director general of FoodDrinkEurope. "With the right support, we have the ability to significantly enhance Europe's competitiveness, provide societal stability, and invest in resilient food systems."


The plan calls for an EU Food Investment Strategy to address funding gaps and drive public and private financing in areas such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, packaging recycling and digital infrastructure.


It also urges accelerated risk assessment and approvals within the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to support innovative and sustainable food solutions.


Additionally, the plan proposes regulatory and reporting simplification, as well as a competitiveness check for proposed new laws to maintain Single Market principles, ensure fairness along the supply chain, and deliver positive impacts on growth, social and environmental goals.


Marco Settembri, president of FoodDrinkEurope, added: "Our sector employs 4.6 million people. Our turnover is equivalent to the combined GDP of Ireland and Belgium. We are central to the EU's sustainable growth strategy".


Settembri highlighted the industry's role in ensuring Europe's security, stating that "a robust food and drink industry is critical not only for economic stability but also for security. Ensuring access to high-quality, affordable food and drink is essential for a stable and peaceful Europe."


The plan also calls for the creation of an executive vice-president of the European Commission for Agri-Food, to acknowledge the strategic importance of food and the need for strong leadership to deliver sustainable food systems.


It further advocates for policy co-creation, ensuring business expertise is used to develop sound and future-proof policies through a continuous, de-polarised agri-food dialogue.


In addition to the plan, FoodDrinkEurope has published an updated Action Project for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems, showcasing the industry's commitment to ambitious sustainability goals, including net-zero emissions, ending deforestation, sustainable packaging and supporting farmers in their transition to more sustainable agriculture.


"FoodDrinkEurope is dedicated to achieving these sustainability targets and working closely with policymakers to create an enabling environment for the industry to thrive," Jacobs concluded.


 

The five core areas of the plan


The report outlines a five-step Food Investment & Resilience Plan proposed by FoodDrinkEurope to guide policymakers in supporting a competitive and sustainable European food and drink industry.


As the largest manufacturing sector in Europe, the food and drink industry plays a crucial strategic role in the EU's competitiveness, sustainability and security ambitions.


The five core areas include:


Stimulate investment: Close financing gaps to enable the industry's transition to sustainable food systems, including through a targeted CAP, dedicated food investment strategy and better support for SMEs.


Support innovation: Accelerate sustainable food innovation by streamlining approval processes, promoting the benefits of innovation and establishing public-private research partnerships.


Boost trade and secure supply: Pursue an ambitious EU trade agenda to expand global market access, while also co-creating policies to ensure supply chain resilience and food security.


Build better regulation: Apply competitiveness checks on new laws, simplify reporting requirements, and increase transparency in the policy process.


Improve governance: Create a food policy coordination unit and appoint an Executive Vice-President for Agri-Food to ensure joined-up thinking across the EU institutions.


 

#FoodDrinkEurope #roadmap #policymakers #sustainability

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