A New Homemade Sauce but the Same Market Pasta: Do the European Union’s Newest Agricultural Policies Support Food Sovereignty?

A blog post by Gina Hervey, Junior Associate.

“Food Sovereignty is a process that adapts to the people and places where it is put in practice. Food Sovereignty means solidarity, not competition, and building a fairer world from the bottom up.”[1]

Food Sovereignty is growing in global attention as a metric for assessing the health and viability of a food system as we face a changing climate.[2] The food sovereignty movement strives to remove the commodification of healthy food and instead treats it as a basic human right.[3] To that end, it calls for ensuring local food producer livelihoods, knowledge, and land stewardship are respected and honored.[4] The newest agricultural policies across the European Union support, and in some cases, even require, food sovereign  aligned activities. However, international market competition remains an additional, and often conflicting goal with such food sovereign policies. And ultimately, how deeply food sovereign notions take root across Europe will largely depend on each state governments’ chosen enforceable policies.

In many ways, the language around and within the overarching, non-binding Farm to Fork Strategy, and the key financial instrument it employs, the 2023 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP 2023), are largely aligned with food sovereignty notions.[5] Both declare an intent to support small, family run farmers and community-based food production; encourage environmentally-regenerative agricultural practices; and build more resilient European food systems.[6] However, the range of CAP strategies a Member Nation can employ, and the underlying economic motives of CAP 2023 suggest that while some food sovereignty concepts are adopted, significant restructuring is needed before Europe has a truly food sovereign system.



[1] Id. at 1.

[2] Eur. Coordination Via Campesina, Food Sovereignty Now!, 11 (2018) https://www.eurovia.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/FINAL-EN-FoodSov-A5-rev6.pdf [hereinafter Food Sovereignty Now]; Food Sovereignty, Climate Action and Local Resilience, Agricultural and Rural Actors Working Together for Good Food, Good Farming and Better Rural Policies in the EU (Nov. 10, 2021) https://www.arc2020.eu/food-sovereignty-climate-action-and-local-resilience/.

[3] Food Sovereignty Now, supra note 1, at 1.

[4] Id. at 7.

[5] See, The New Common Agricultural Policy: 2023-27, Eur. Comm’n, https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-agricultural-policy/new-cap-2023-27_en (last visited Dec. 18, 2021) (providing an overview of CAP 2023 objectives pursuant to the Farm to Fork Strategy)

[hereinafter The New Common Agricultural Policy].

[6] Id.

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