A view from the European Parliament (vol.3)
Already two and a half years into their mandate, MEPs are in the midst of a reshuffle, having last week just appointed a new President and fourteen Vice-Presidents as well as agreeing upon the revised composition of the Parliamentary committees. The Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the committees are also due to change. 2017 looks set to be another significant year with agri-food issues remaining high on the European Parliament’s agenda. We have seen progress on a number of files in recent months, in particular in the areas of waste and food waste, EU-Canada trade, transparency in the food chain and advertising standards.
After months of negotiations, MEPs are close to finalising an agreement on the waste and packaging waste reports in the framework of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The draft reports propose to set targets to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 and to increase the re-use and recycling of packaging waste to 80% by 2030.
MEPs are also due to adopt recommendations on food waste and food safety in the coming months which sets out binding food waste targets across the EU and a common methodology to measure food waste. The proposal also focuses on improving consumers’ understanding of ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates, and reducing legislative barriers and taxation for food donation.
On EU-Canada trade relations, MEPs are expected to ratify the agreement at their Plenary session in February. Interestingly, February is the last possible date when MEPs can meet the deadline set by the Council to notify Canada about its readiness to start the provisional application of CETA.
In response to the recommendations made by the Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF) in November, AGRI MEPs are taking a particular interest in market transparency in the food chain and the distribution of value added along the chain. The AMTF was set up in 2015 to propose options to improve farmers' positions in the food chain. MEPs last year approved recommendations to the Commission on Unfair Trading Practices in the food chain and will be looking to develop those recommendations through the AMTF.
MEPs are also in the process of reviewing the Commission’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive which encourages audiovisual media service providers to develop codes of conduct for food and drink products high in fat, salt and sugar during children’s programmes. This has resulted is stronger codes of conduct in some member states, as well as the EU Pledge, a voluntary initiative by companies to limit food and beverage marketing to children across Europe.
Looking ahead, we see that Brexit negotiations will continue to feature strongly on the Parliament’s agenda. Non-communicable diseases will be a priority for the Maltese Presidency as will combating childhood obesity. A strong Single Market for good and services and further advancing bi-lateral trade agreements with third countries will also be high on the list of priorities.