© stock.adobe.com/andrea lehmkuhl

The Green Deal and “From Farm to Fork”: EU Strategies for Improving the Food System and Biological Diversity

Team at Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum provides support with submitting applications to the EU

By launching its Green Deal strategy, the EU is pursuing its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. The Green Deal is considered the most ambitious environmental legislation proposal submitted by the EU Commission since the end of 2019. The concept includes an EU biodiversity strategy aimed at “bringing nature back into our lives” and an official “From Farm to Fork” strategy for a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system. The aim is to smooth the path for a transition to a sustainable European supply chain in the food and drinks industry. Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum is offering advice and support for stakeholders submitting EU applications and project proposals for the Green Deal concept.

According to Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the EU and European Commissioner for Climate Action, the biodiversity strategy and the From Farm to Fork strategy are central to the EU Green Deal initiative and stand for a new approach that will allow nature, food production, and biological diversity to go hand in hand. The focus lies in healthy eating and the well-being of humans and animals – and at least in competitiveness and the stability of the EU.. This is a major opportunity for research projects, innovations, new products, and improved manufacturing processes.

The aim of the From Farm to Fork strategy is to make European food supplies more sustainable on a number of fronts and reduce their impact on countries in other regions. For the first time, the strategy includes a comprehensive food policy proposing measures and goals for each stage of the food value chain. The idea is to make European food systems more sustainable. Every EU member is obliged to implement these guidelines on a national level and thus promote fulfilment of the shared EU goals. This should help European food become the international standard bearer when it comes to sustainability. The strategy dovetails with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, and the aim is to improve global standards through collaboration and trading policies.

To coincide with the From Farm to Fork strategy, the EU commission has published details of its biodiversity strategy. Its aim is to strengthen society’s resilience to threats such as climate change, forest fires, food shortages, and outbreaks of disease. This includes protecting wildlife and combating the illegal animal trade. By 2030, biodiversity in Europe should be well on its way to recovery. According to Brussels, the strategies work hand in hand as core elements of the European Green Deal and bring nature, farmers, companies, and consumers together so they can all cooperate in safeguarding future competitiveness and sustainability.

Sustainability within the food system and biodiversity

The two strategies tackle a variety of specific topics and objectives as part of the Green Deal. For example, by 2030 the EU wants to halve the use and risk of chemical pesticides.

The excessive level of nutrients making their way back into the environment is a major factor in air, soil, and water pollution. It endangers biological biodiversity and contributes to climate change. The European Commission is therefore taking measures to cut nutrient losses by at least 50%, slow the decline in soil fertility, and reduce the use of fertilizers by at least 20% by 2030.

The use of antibiotics in humans and animals is leading to antimicrobial resistance, resulting in roughly 33,000 deaths in the EU each year. As a result, the commission wants to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock farming and aquaculture by 50% by 2030.

It also wants more extensive development of organic methods as an environmentally friendly approach to farming. The European Commission is supporting an expansion in organic methods with the aim of seeing a quarter of all agricultural land being used for organic farming by 2030.

According to estimates, in 2017 more than 950,000 deaths – equal to roughly 20% of all fatalities – were the result of an unhealthy diet. A healthy diet based on vegetables not only lowers the risk of life-threatening diseases, it also reduces the environmental impact of our food system. The waste food per capita produced by both the retail trade and consumers should also be reduced by 2030.

Green Deal funding

The EU has called for proposals in the following areas as part of the Green Deal. The submission deadline for funding applications is January 26, 2021:

  1. Increasing climate ambition: cross-sectoral challenges
  2. Clean, affordable and secure energy
  3. Industry for a clean and circular economy
  4. Energy and resource efficient buildings
  5. Sustainable and smart mobility
  6. Farm to Fork
  7. Biodiversity and ecosystem services
  8. Zero-pollution, toxic-free environment
  9. Strengthening our knowledge in support of the European Green Deal
  10. Empowering citizens for the transition towards a climate-neutral, sustainable Europe

Funding available under the From Farm to Fork strategy
Funding for the following areas can be applied for as part of the From Farm to Fork strategy:

  • Subtopic A: Achieving climate neutral farms by reducing GHG emissions and by increasing farm-based carbon sequestration and storage.
  • Subtopic B: Achieving climate neutral food businesses by mitigating climate change, reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency in the processing, distribution, conservation and preparation of food.
  • Subtopic C: Reducing the dependence on hazardous pesticides; the losses of nutrients from fertilizers, towards zero pollution of water, soil and air and ultimately fertilizer use.
  • Subtopic D: Reducing dependence on the use of antimicrobials in animal production and aquaculture.
  • Subtopic E: Reducing food losses and waste at every stage of the food chain including consumption, while also avoiding unsustainable packaging.
  • Subtopic F: Shifting to sustainable healthy diets, sourced from land, inland waters and sea, and accessible to all EU citizens, including the most deprived and vulnerable groups.


Anette Mack (author)
Senior manager for public relations
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (Stuttgart)

Maeva Pratlong
Project manager for resource efficiency and the circular economy
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (Stuttgart)

Hartmut Welck
Senior project manager for bio-economics, nutrition, industrial biotechnology, and innovation management
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (Stuttgart)

Dr. Anthony Salingre
Senior project manager for bio-economics, biotechnology and healthcare
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (Stuttgart)

Valerie Bahr
Senior expert for smart cities and innovation management
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (Stuttgart)