The European Green Deal

Introduction – Liam MacHale, IFA Director of European Affairs.

The European Commission have published the Farm to Fork Strategy and Biodiversity Strategy 2030 which are both part of the European Green Deal initiative announced in December 2019. The Commission communication documents will form the basis for proposals and discussion on future according to the Draft Action Plan over the years 2020-2024. IFA has made a submission to the European Commission (16th March 2020) on the Farm to Fork Strategy and has contributed to the submission of COPA. IFA have responded to the publication of the Strategies.

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The European Green Deal – Overview

The European Green Deal is the EU’s roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable. The EU’s objectives are to turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all.


The European Green Deal provides a roadmap with actions which will attempt to

  • boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy
  • restore biodiversity and cut pollution.

It outlines investments needed and financing tools available, and explains how the EU plans to ensure a just and inclusive transition.

The EU is aiming to be climate neutral in 2050. To do this, the EU proposed a European Climate Law turning the political commitment into a legal obligation and a trigger for investment.

The EU states that reaching this target will require action by all sectors of our economy, including

  • investing in environmentally-friendly technologies
  • supporting industry to innovate
  • rolling out cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of private and public transport
  • decarbonising the energy sector
  • ensuring buildings are more energy efficient
  • working with international partners to improve global environmental standards

The EU will also provide financial support and technical assistance to help people, businesses and regions that are most affected by the move towards the green economy. This is called the Just Transition Mechanism and will help mobilise at least €100 billion over the period 2021-2027 in the most affected regions.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is a key component of the European Green Deal. The European Commission launched a Communication on the Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system on Wednesday 20thMay 2020. The Farm to Fork Strategy will seek to strengthen farmers and fishermen’s efforts to tackle climate change, protect the environment and preserve biodiversity. The Commission also announced a Communication on the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 on the same day.

The goal of the strategy is to change the way we produce and consume, without compromising on the safety, quality and affordability of food.

The Commission will consult extensively with producers and other food business operators, citizens, NGOs and other stakeholders to get the balance right, and with Member States for support to deliver it.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is part of the Commission European Green Deal which was announced on 11th December 2019 and is the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate change and environment-related challenges. An Action Plan (2020-2024) will be included as an Annex to the Strategy.

See IFA’s Submission on Farm to Fork strategy and COPA/COGECA’s submission to the Commission on 16th March 2020.

The European Green Deal is a new growth strategy that aims to achieve no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use.

It aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts. At the same time the transition must be just and inclusive. It must put people first.

Target: Legislative initiative for a framework of sustainable food system before end of 2023

The Farm to Fork strategy seeks to change the focus on food production to a new focus on “food systems”.

This strategy will place most of the burden on farmers, fishers and aquaculture producers who have a pivotal role in making food systems sustainable.

The Commission will make incentives available through CAP to help transition to more sustainable practices;

The strategy will aim to reduce dependency on Pesticides and Antimicrobials and reduce the nutrient loss and the usage of Fertilisers – see Biodiversity Strategy 2030.

Increase organic farming, reverse biodiversity loss and support Sustainable Food Production.

In relation to animal production and animal welfare the Commission promises to improve animal welfare and in the review of funding for agriculture products, will focus on how to support the most sustainable, carbon-efficient methods of livestock production.

New Business Models – CO₂ removal from atmosphere will be rewarded through the CAP and/or public or private initiatives (carbon market).

Circular economy – Commission will develop a regulatory framework for certification of carbon removals

The CAP will carry most of burden of the Commission’s new strategy. Member States will have to ensure that Eco-schemes are appropriately resourced and implemented in their Strategic Plans.

The shift to sustainable fish and seafood production will be accelerated in the EU. The next Maritime and Fisheries Fund will significantly support sustainable seafood farming and the Commission will adopt guidelines to promote the right kind of expenditure under the Fund.

The EU will develop a code of conduct for responsible business and marketing practice to promote affordability and availability of healthy and sustainable food options

A shift to healthy sustainable diets will be promoted – reversing food consumption patterns and moving to a more plant-based diet with less red meat and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce risks of life-threatening diseases and the environmental impact of the food system.

The Commission will tackle food loss and waste committing to halving per capita food waste at retail and consumer levels by 2030 (SDG 12.3).

Research and innovation will be accelerated and effective Agriculture Knowledge and innovation Systems (AKIS) involving all food chain actors will be promoted

Strategy Review: mid 2023 – in order to see if actions taken are sufficient or whether additional action is necessary

Commissioners Responsible

European Green Deal – Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans

Farm to Fork Strategy – Health & Food Safety: Commissioner Stella Kyriakides

Biodiversity Strategy 2030 – Environment, Oceans & Fisheries: Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius

The Biodiversity Strategy 2030 proposes to address the 5 main drivers of biodiversity loss (Climate Change, Pollution, Deforestation, Invasive Species & Overexploitation) and outline an enhanced governance framework and set a roadmap for implementation to achieve the Commission objectives.

While the biodiversity crisis is closely linked to the climate crisis, nature-based solutions can help in the fight against climate change.

This strategy will work in tandem with the Farm to Fork Strategy and the revised Common Agriculture Policy, including through the promotion of eco-schemes and result based payment schemes.

The Commission want biodiversity considerations to be better integrated into public and business decision-making at all levels in order to ensure that by 2050, ecosystems are healthy and resilient.


Legally protect a minimum of 30% of the EU land area and 30% of the EU sea area and integrate ecological corridors –  This is a minimum of an extra 4% for land and 19% for sea areas as compared to today. The objective is to build a coherent, resilient and ecologically representative Trans European Nature Network

Strictly protect at least 1/3 of the EU protected areas (10% on land and 10% at sea), covering areas of very high biodiversity value or potential on land and at sea, including define, map, monitor and strictly protect all remaining EU primary forests.

Binding EU nature restoration targets are to be proposed in 2021 and significant areas of degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems across land and sea are to be restored.

The overall use and risk from chemical pesticides will be reduced by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides is to be reduced by 50% by 2030.

At least 10% of utilised agricultural area will be brought back under high-diversity landscape features, such as areas with buffer strips, rotational or non-rotational fallow land, hedges or non-productive trees. While the target is set at the EU level, it would need to be translated by Member States to a lower geographical scale in order to ensure connectivity among habitats,especially through the CAP instruments and CAP strategic Plans, in line with the Farm to Fork Strategy, and through the implementation of the Habitats Directive.

Organic Farming – The uptake of agro-ecological practices is to be significantly increased and at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land must be organically farmed by 2030.

Agroforestry – At least three billion new trees are to be planted in the EU by 2030, in full respect of ecological principles.

At least 25 000 km of free-flowing rivers will be restored by 2030, through the removal of primarily obsolete barriers and the restoration of floodplains.

Nutrient losses will be reduced by at least 50% while ensuring no deterioration of soil fertility (reduction of use of fertilisers by at least 20%) as part of the Zero Pollution ambition – An integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan to be developed by 2022.

The revised Renewable Energy Directive includes strengthened sustainability criteria and promotes the shift towards advanced biofuels based on residues and non-reusable and non- recyclable waste.

The share of forest areas covered with management plans including biodiversity-friendly practices such as closer-to-nature-forestry should expand to cover all managed public forests and significantly increase in private forests (Note: proposed EU Forestry Strategy 2021)

The Commission will further promote tax systems and pricing to reflect real environmental costs, including the cost of biodiversity loss. This should involve encouraging changes in fiscal systems so that Member States shift the tax burden from labour to pollution

The Commission will support civil society’s role as a compliance watchdog, by improving access to justice in national courts in environmental matters through the upcoming revised Aarhus Regulation.

Effective implementation of an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework will require greater cooperation with partners and trade policy can be part of the EU’s ecological transition.