Ranging across eight policy areas - biodiversity, sustainable food systems, sustainable agriculture, clean energy, sustainable industry, building and renovating, sustainable mobility, eliminating pollution and climate action - the deal represents an unprecedented effort to review more than 50 European laws and redesign public policies, while also introducing legislations on the circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming, and innovation. It also includes a circular economy action plan, a review and possible revision of the relevant climate-related policy instruments, including the Emissions Trading System, a Farm to Fork strategy that shifts the focus from compliance to performance (which will reward farmers for managing and storing carbon in the soil, improving nutrient management, reducing emissions, etc), a revision of the Energy Taxation Directive that is looking closely at fossil fuel subsidies and tax exemptions (aviation, shipping), a sustainable and smart mobility strategy, and an EU forest strategy. The key objectives of the latter include effective afforestation, and forest preservation and restoration in Europe. The European Green Deal will improve the well-being and health of citizens and future generations by providing fresh air, clean water, healthy soil, biodiversity, renovated and energy efficient buildings, healthy and affordable food, more public transport, cleaner energy and cutting-edge clean technological innovation, longer lasting products that can be repaired, recycled and re-used, future-proof jobs and skills training for the transition and a globally competitive and resilient industry.
The most important policy in the food industry and agriculture is the Farm to Fork strategy. The Farm to Fork strategy pursues the issue of food sustainability to ensure that agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and the food value chain contribute appropriately to the objective of a climate neutral European Union in 2050. Food systems remain one of the key drivers of climate change and environmental degradation. The manufacturing, processing, retailing, packaging and transportation of food make a major contribution to GHG emissions, air, soil, and water pollution, and have a profound impact on biodiversity. Fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems lie at the core of Farm to Fork. Also, Farm to Fork seeks to reduce food waste, to ensure that there is a sufficient and affordable supply of foods for its citizens, while also guaranteeing that farmers receive a fair price for their products and that the EU remains competitive on a global scale. Farm to Fork sets out both regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives to support a just transition. As part of the actions required to achieve these objectives, the EU is planning the revision of many existing regulations for food and agriculture, as well as the creation of new rules and the improvement of coordination tools within the EU. The program includes the following targets :
- Making 25% of EU agriculture organic, by 2030
- Reduce by 50% the use of pesticides by 2030
- Reduce the use of Fertilizers by 20% by 2030
- Reduce nutrient loss by at least 50%
- Reduce the use of antimicrobials in agriculture and antimicrobials in aquaculture by 50% by 2030
- Create sustainable food labelling
- Reduce food waste by 50% by 2030
- Dedicate to R&I related to the issue €10 billion
Farm to Fork is expected to create big changes in the way that food is produced, transported, distributed, and marketed. The most immediate impact of the F2F strategy on businesses that export to Europe will be from the New Common Agricultural Policy, which will enter into force in Q1 2023. Businesses from non-EU countries exporting to the EU will have to comply with stricter regulations regarding labelling and information.
With the implementation of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan, many industries will have to adjust their practices and adopt more sustainable methods. The fashion and textile industry is one of the main focus sectors of the circular economy action plan. The circular economy action plan will include a ‘sustainable products’ policy to support the circular design of all products based on a common methodology and principles. It will prioritise reducing and reusing materials before recycling them. It will foster new business models and set minimum requirements to prevent environmentally harmful products from being placed on the EU market. Extended producer responsibility will also be strengthened. While the circular economy action plan will guide the transition of all sectors, action will focus particularly on resource-intensive sectors such as textiles, construction, electronics, and plastics. Textiles are the fourth highest-pressure category for the use of primary raw materials and water. It is estimated that less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new textiles. The EU textile sector, predominantly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises, has started to recover after a long period of restructuring, while 60% by value of clothing in the EU is produced elsewhere. In the light of the complexity of the textile value chain, to respond to these challenges the Commission will propose a comprehensive EU Strategy for Textiles, based on input from the industry and other stakeholders. The strategy aims to strengthen industrial competitiveness and innovation in the sector, boosting the EU market for sustainable and circular textiles, including the market for textile reuse, addressing fast fashion and driving new business models. This will be achieved by a comprehensive set of measures, including:
- • applying the new sustainable product framework as set out in section 2 to textiles, including developing ecodesign measures to ensure that textile products are fit for circularity, confirming the uptake of secondary raw materials, tackling the presence of hazardous chemicals, and empowering business and private consumers to choose sustainable textiles and have easy access to reuse and repair services;
- • improving the business and regulatory settings for sustainable and circular textiles in the EU, in particular by providing incentives and support to product-as-service models, circular materials and production processes, and increasing transparency through international cooperation;
- • providing guidance to achieve high levels of separate collection of textile waste, which Member States have to ensure by 2025;
- • boosting the sorting, re-use and recycling of textiles, including through innovation, encouraging industrial applications and regulatory measures such as extended producer responsibility
The involvement and commitment of the public and of all stakeholders is crucial to the success of the European Green Deal. Recent political events show that game changing policies only work if citizens are fully involved in designing them. People are concerned about jobs, heating their homes and making ends meet, and EU institutions should engage with them if the Green Deal is to succeed and deliver lasting change. Citizens are and should remain a driving force of the transition.