The EU should do more to promote plant-based diets, while “introducing financial penalties” for farms that have impact negatively on the environment, the “citizens-focused” Conference on the Future of Europe has proposed in its final report released this week.
It was proposed by the citizens contributing to the conference that the EU should “promote a plant-based diet on the grounds of climate protection and the preservation of the environment”.
The proposal on the introduction of financial penalties for farms that impact negatively on the environment gave examples of criteria on which such penalty decisions could be made which included greenhouse gas emissions, use of pesticides and the overuse of water.
Subsidies should also be reduced for farm systems of “agricultural mass production” where they do not contribute to environmental goals, the citizens also put forward, adding that custom duties for agri-food goods of similar mass production systems should be levied by the EU on imports.
Citizens recommended that the EU consider “making biodiversity a mandatory subject in schools”, with food production and biodiversity protection included in education programmes.
Another recommendation made to policymakers was that the EU “redirect subsidies and strengthen incentives towards organic farming and sustainable agriculture”.
The conference, which included participants from different regions, age profiles and socio-economic background, concluded its work on 9 May, compiling a final report which put forward 49 proposals, with farming central to many of the measures included in the report’s recommendations on climate and food policies.
Biodiversity and forestry
The citizen participants proposed that protected areas, such a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), are extended to improve biodiversity at these sites.
The citizens also recommended that the EU take measures to “significantly reduce the use chemical
pesticides and fertilisers” whilst recognising the need to ensure food security.
On forestry, the conference proposed that the EU introduce “binding national targets” for reforestation of native tree species, but acknowledged the need for taking “different
national situations and specificities” into account when setting targets.
It was put forward that the EU should further its work on developing carbon farming by putting in place a “robust, solid and transparent” system of carbon accounting.
The EU’s institutions will host a “feedback event” this autumn to update the conference on how they are following up on the citizens’ proposals, the European Commission has said.