EFFAT welcomes the ambitious targets set in the European Commission Communication on the European Green Deal and regrets that EU leaders failed to find unanimity on its 2050 zero emissions target at the European Council meeting early this morning.

Representing 2.6 million workers employed in the European Food, Agriculture and Tourism Sectors, EFFAT is encouraged that the Commission intends to achieve its goals through a socially just transition strategy: we regard positively the proposal to create a Just Transition Fund to ensure workers are given a seat on the journey to net-zero, although we are concerned that potential budget restrictions may limit the scope of the project, to the cost of workers.

EFFAT also awaits keenly full details of the announced Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy aimed at achieving a more sustainable food system. A radical shift in direction is needed. It is clear that any ambitious environmental targets cannot be reached without addressing the socioeconomic imbalances that are currently affecting the most vulnerable actors in the EU food chain, specifically agricultural workers and small farmers. The EC Communication contains several promising aspirations which EFFAT hopes to help mould into a more comprehensive food policy strategy, bringing together all sustainability objectives, from fair trade policies to sustainable food production, without overlooking the creation and protection of good and safe jobs in Europe, fair wages and equal income distributions along the food chain. With this in mind, EFFAT has today co-signed a European Food Coalition letter to EC Executive Vice President for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans (link below), calling for a fresh, coherent long-term vision for the EU food system. We look forward to sharing these and more proposals as part of the broad stakeholder debate on F2F, foreseen from Spring 2020.

Mention is made of CAP reform – including the ringfencing of 40% of CAP funding for climate action – but EFFAT waits to see how this will tie in with the objectives set out in the Communication. For EFFAT it is clear that the environmental protection proposals put forward are a welcome step forward, but we will also push strongly for stricter social compliance measures to prevent EU CAP subsidies from being provided to irresponsible employers that do not respect collective labour agreements and labour standards. For EFFAT, sustainability in the food supply chain is achieved through the dignity of workers.

Kristjan Bragason, EFFAT Secretary General, commented on the release of the Communication, saying: “It is very positive to see the Commission acknowledging the Climate Emergency we are facing. Our support for the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy will strongly depend on the involvement of the social partners throughout the process, and on the attention given to the protection of workers’ rights and labour standards, as these will be key to ensuring nobody gets left behind. It will therefore be crucial that the Commission adopts a holistic approach with a clear roadmap that includes the active involvement of Trade Unions at all levels and in all sectors. It is also important that every country commits themselves soon to (at least) reaching the targets included in the Green Deal.”

Letter to Vice President Timmermans

Photo credit: François Genon

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