How will the war in Ukraine affect food security in Europe?
Despite food supply not currently being affected by the war in Ukraine, a new report by the European Commission shows that food prices could soar in the coming months.
This could have a major impact on the lowest-income households in Europe, and people in this group could struggle to access enough food if the situation continues.
The document highlights the risks of increasing wheat prices in the region and the threat of food shortages, as the invasion of Ukraine continues to impact the EU’s agri-food sector.
It says, “The EU is largely self-sufficient for key agricultural products, being a main wheat and barley exporter and largely able to cover its consumption for other staple crops such as maize or sugar. There is no risk of widespread shortage for consumers”.
The document also insists that food supply “is not at stake in the EU today”. However, it warns that there are some risks and some EU citizens could become vulnerable due to higher costs. If food prices are driven up, this could hit the poorest in society.
How will the EU protect food security?
The communication also details a range of short and medium-term actions to improve food security and support EU farmers and consumers.
It proposes that there needs to be an “integrated approach” to target the root causes of poverty, as this would protect the most vulnerable consumers from food insecurity. It would also ensure everyone can afford to buy food with a high nutritional value.
One of the recommendations in the document is to encourage member states to introduce reduced rates of VAT of food to relieve some of the pressure currently on food prices.
Last year, the Council agreed to reform VAT rates at the EU level. This enables EU countries to reduce VAT to 0% on some goods, including food, as it fills a basic need.
Other suggested measures include focusing on improving the food supply. For example, one recommendation is to introduce derogations on rules to allow crops to be planted in areas set aside for ecological purposes.