As 2023 draws to a close, we take stock of some of the policy initiatives and outcomes that have defined the year, the challenges that we have faced, but also the successes. In this short 2023 recap, we have summarised some of the most important developments while also taking time to reflect on what 2024 will have in store.
One of the year’s highlights was the unveiling of our Plant-Based Manifesto in November. This critical document, targeting the 2024 European elections, sets forth a range of policy asks and initiatives. It aims to influence newly elected officials in addressing environmental and health challenges in line with the European Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The manifesto’s unveiling at an engaging roundtable event signified EVU’s commitment to driving meaningful change.
In France, the EVU played a pivotal role in the ongoing litigation regarding the labelling of plant-based foods. The case, referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by the Conseil d’Etat, seeks to clarify the compatibility of France’s decree with EU law. This development, along with similar actions in Italy and Poland, underscores the importance of consistent and transparent food labelling regulations across the EU. Felix Hnat, EVU President, notably reflected on the argument that pits innovation with tradition in our culinary heritage in an EUObserver op-ed.
Another significant moment was the EVU’s participation in a European Parliament Committee on Fisheries hearing. Here, the EVU not only advocated for appealing and informative labelling but also highlighted the environmental benefits of plant-based seafood alternatives. Policy Manager Rafael Pinto presented compelling data, reflecting consumers’ understanding of these products.
2023 also saw the launch of the “Plant-based Sustainable Public Procurement: Best Practices” report by the EVU. This comprehensive document showcases how collective catering can reduce environmental impacts and expenses, offering practical examples and insights for various institutions.
However, the year also saw its setbacks. The European Parliament’s rejection of amendments to include plant-based milk alternatives in the EU School Scheme was a disappointment. This decision contrasted with the Farm to Fork Strategy’s goals, and the EVU, along with other associations, had emphasised the importance of such inclusion for sustainable and inclusive school nutrition. An important recent study has also highlighted the pervasive influence and tactics of the big meat and dairy industry, demonstrating once again the challenges and barriers facing the plant-based voice.
Looking Ahead to 2024
As we approach 2024, we continue to remain active and attentive to developing outcomes. The upcoming European elections present a vital opportunity to guide and encourage future decision-makers towards sustainable policies. The EVU will continue to address denomination issues at national and European levels, focusing on the need to enable consumers to make their own sustainable choices.
The European Commission’s Protein Strategy also remains a key focus. The EVU has been actively advocating for this strategy to emphasise plant-based protein crop production in Europe. Although the current narrative from the Commission is promising, the outcome remains to be seen with the strategy’s expected launch in March 2024.
In conclusion, while 2023 was a year of both achievements and challenges, the EVU is poised to continue its mission into 2024, advocating for a sustainable and plant-based future in line with European and global goals.
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