In what turned out to be our final EU Committee event before moving online for a few weeks, we were delighted to welcome the Director of Food & Feed Safety and Innovation at DG SANTE, Sabine Juelicher. Ms Juelicher addressed a sold out room of our full and patron membership, leading a discussion on the Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy in the context of the European Green Deal.
In Spring 2020, the Commission plans to present their Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) to ensure European citizens have improved access to affordable and sustainable food. The research for this has already begun through a series of targeted consultations during February, and the Commission are currently receiving and discussing the feedback on their roadmap. In addition to this, there will also be further consultations for individual initiatives once the Action Plan has been finalised and adopted. *
Creating a sustainable food system will be key for a successful transition to a sustainable economy and will require a monumental effort from politicians and industry alike, an effort which will firstly be focused on creating a reformed Common Agricultural Policy. CAP reform is crucial in providing the legislative bedrock for further industrial and economic changes, and must set out a new growth strategy to support innovation and improve the position of farmers in the food supply chain.
The road to a sustainable agricultural sector is not without challenges. There are many obstacles to be overcome if F2F is to realise its potential, some of which are known and some of which may appear unexpectedly. Fortunately, the Commission recognises that this will be the case and has made clear that these need to be addressed at all stages of the food supply chain in order to ensure no one is left behind. Such challenges include; macroeconomic pressures and trade tensions putting downward pressure on prices, an increasingly volatile environment with unpredictable weather patterns, the difficulty of balancing quality vs quantity, and continual rises in food demand and food waste simultaneously.
Overcoming these challenges will not be easy, but it’s far from impossible and the Commission has plans in place to address many of them as they arise. There will be a substantial need for cooperation across horizontal and vertical governance levels if F2F is to be a success, including the agreement of financial support to speed up investment, and fostering the role of research and innovation in driving the transition to a sustainable economy.
There is much to get excited about in the agriculture and food sectors over the next few years. It appears for now at least that Europe is generally pulling in the same direction on this, and the longer this continues the more anticipation there will be for just how much the Farm to Fork Strategy may achieve.
*at the time of writing, the impact of Covid-19 on this timeline is not clear.
Director, DG SANTE | European Commission
Sabine Jülicher is Director for food and feed safety, innovation in the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission. She is responsible for policies relating to a range of sectors such as food information & composition, food waste, food processing technologies, novel foods, biotechnology, pesticides, biocides as well as veterinary medicines & animal nutrition.
During the period 2013 to 2015 she was Head of Unit responsible for policy matters related to authorisation and monitoring of medicines and relations with the European Medicine’s Agency.
Before that, she has been responsible for audits and inspections in the area of food of animal origin in EU Member States, accession countries and third countries trading with the EU.
Ms Jülicher joined the European Commission in 1999, initially as veterinary inspector at the Food and Veterinary Office before taking up management functions in 2008.
She holds a veterinary degree from the Free University Berlin and completed her thesis on microbiology and food safety. Moreover she holds a postgraduate qualification in food hygiene.