Green Deal Industrial Plan: Brussel’s bureaucratic cageBY ANTONIO PICASSO

The bureaucratic cage often arises from the good intention of making a context more efficient and harnessing it positive energies. Too bad, however, that then, precisely because it is a cage, the public administration ends up complicating things. This is once again confirmed by the European Union, which, with its sustainability policies, aims to make our continent a model. Its ambitions of zero emissions by 2050 and, specifically in agri-food, one third of production dedicated to organic by 2030, are high. For some even unattainable.

However, the proposal to trigger a subsidy policy could make things easier. If it weren’t for the internal regulations and the international scenario in which the EU is operating. For the first point, it is true that the Green Deal Industrial Plan aims for a simplification of procedures – the good intention of the cage mentioned above – but without a structural intervention upstream there is a risk that access to the subsidies provided will be truly a privilege for those who need it the least.

In a European Union that insists on not tackling the issues of common debt and taxation – a dossier on which the sovereignty of each individual member state would be further called into question – the financing of industrial investments in a green key is worth more for a reason of consensus of the environmentally sensitive electorate, rather than as a true industrial policy, aimed at enhancing the continent’s manufacturing champions.

Then, there is a specific point to be made on the agriculture front. The sector, as we know, is facing an unprecedented path towards ecological transition. Neither with respect to the rest of the world, nor in comparison with the world of industry and services. Between the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and Farm to Fork (FtoF), indeed, European agriculture claims to become a model in terms of environmental and food sustainability. Organic production for a third of the total, respect for biodiversity, as well as territorial agricultural identities, zero kilometre in terms of distribution, clear and complete information on finished food products, food education oriented towards a healthy and balanced diet, and the fight against waste.

All this while 450 million citizens have to be fed, and the growth trend between 2001 and 2020 has reached four percentage points. 

Now, despite the fact that subsidies for agriculture are already set down by the CAP and FtoF, is Brussels sure that this will be enough? Since the liquidity is there, the question is political.

Agriculture is the macro-sector most exposed to the currents of populism. Both the pro-environmental one, inspired by the intention of sustainability even at the cost of compromising social and entrepreneurial balances. And the opposite one, which sees in the CAP and the FtoF the manifestation of an ideological interventionism that threatens a long-standing agricultural and industrial tradition. Indeed, let us remember that it is thanks to the food processing industry – made up of historic brands and many of them Italian – that Europe went from being a starving continent in 1945 to an ultra-consumerist society in terms of food.

In such an international scenario – with China and the USA waiting for nothing more than to unleash their production locomotives, sure to easily overtake us – wouldn’t it make more sense to review agrifood plans too?

On the contrary, amidst tightening regulations for the entry of deforesting products into Europe, anti-packaging measures and the still unclear measures under the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (Cbam), Brussels presses ahead with sanctioning practices. On the other hand, it encourages sustainability policies that only on principle respect this concept. Confirming once again that it is a good regulator, but not a political animal. 


>>> Check the Sustainable Nutrition Platform for more articles on this topic <<<

Image credit: courtesy of Tyler Varsell for the NYT >>>

Join Our Community and Stay Up to DateSign up to receive weekly updates, thoughtful ideas, and exclusive invitations