In the build up to the International Day of Peasant Struggles on 17 April, European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) has sent an open letter to various EU institutional figures to demand a robust policy framework to achieve food sovereignty on a European and global level and be better prepared in case of food crisis.
In the build up to the International Day of Peasant Struggles on 17 April, European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) has sent an open letter to various EU institutional figures to demand a robust policy framework to achieve food sovereignty on a European and global level and be better prepared in case of food crisis. In the context of the war in Ukraine and other global armed conflicts, in the letter ECVC expresses solidarity with the peasants who, despite everything, continue their work to produce food for the populations of their region. For ECVC, the fragilities that exist within food and energy supply chains have been laid bare by global events of the past two years. These fragilities reflect the interests of a handful of powerful organisations and yet jeopardise access to fresh, healthy and sufficient food for societies across the globe. As a result, ECVC demands that control of food and production systems be put once again in the hands of the population, in the form of food sovereignty. The role and importance of small-scale farmers must be better valued and these farmers should be guaranteed access to land, seeds, resources and the market through EU policy. Among the concrete steps identified to achieve this, ECVC highlighted ensuring fair income for farmers and agricultural workers through market regulation measures and through the implementation of the EU Unfair Trading Practices directive at a national level, as has happened recently in Spain. For Andoni Garcia Arriola, Spanish member of the ECVC Coordinating Committee, we need paradigm change in EU agricultural and trade policy to truly tackle this issue. “Food is a basic human right and cannot be treated as a commodity. We must rethink the entire approach to food production systems and start to trade in way that protects the livelihoods of food producers, which means not putting farmers in unfair competition with each other. We have to remove agriculture from Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and we must agree that the WTO is not the appropriate space to discuss food and agricultural issues.” Similarly, according to Morgan Ody, member of the ECVC Coordinating Committee from Bretagne, France, the export-oriented model that has been created by neo-liberal policies has led to unjustified price rises for citizens, even in times of war. “The UE must also assess how speculation mechanisms and private food stocks impact the volatility and fluctuation of prices. The creation of strategic public food stocks at the national level in each EU member state, supported by an EU coordination mechanism, would be much more effective to guarantee food security across Europe.” For ECVC, faced with clear proof of the enormous flaws of the present system that are further exposed by the war in Ukraine and by the coronavirus pandemic, it is time to act. Policy makers must ensure the implementation of a systemic vision of food sovereignty and allies and citizens of the European Union must demand accountability and change through public policy, for the future of our food systems. This is a question of human rights, of farmers’ rights and of citizens’ rights that can no longer be ignored.