Spring to Summer 2024 Editorial – Build Better Policy from the Ground up

EU Green Deal Image created by ARC2020 using Dall-E

Oliver Moore rounds up the state of play as the mandate of the EU institutions completes. Its not been a good finish ,but there are amazing things happening on the ground. It is from here – from the ground up – that we must build better policy. Editorial from the ARC quarterly newsletter, which you can sign up for here

I felt the mild joy of curious suprise when I learned that, against the odds, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Regulation had passed the final approval stage in the European Parliament, in the last plenary of the 2019-2024 mandate.

This feeling was tempered when the realisation landed that it still had to get the green light from the Council later this month.

So low now are my expectations of the EU institutions to deliver on anything of substance for social and ecological progress, that I will not hold my breath in waiting for this one small victory for the poorest, most vulnerable, in the global supply chain.

Power Plays

The main lesson from the now complete mandate is that the power of business-as-usual forces to prevent purposeful change still dominates. These forces will use fear and scaremongering, will mobilise who and whatever they need, to prevent anything genuinely transformative from being ushered in.

The evisceration of many of the core ecological conditions of the CAP, along with the rejection of 2/3 of the farm to fork, is an appalling indictment of the institutions, and a slap in the face to the concerned and committed citizens of Europe.

Millions may march, may sign petitions; thousands may make interventions carefully and methodically over the years, to tweak legislative proposals; all it takes is a heady brew of lobby power and political cowardice to reject all of this in a tiny window of time.

Four years were spent making considered interventions on CAP. Yet in four weeks an unprecedented, rule-ignoring, panicked process of legislative re-writing has left CAP gutted. In some cases, we are back at 2003 levels of environmental standards. 

Of course the other main legislative failure of this mandate – the EU Green Deal  – was disadvantaged from the outset by being a neoliberal solution to structural socio-economic and ecological problems.

Unlike the original New Deal of the 1930s, which was about structural investment and a new social security net, the neo-liberal Green Deal was accurate on the science but bereft on the supports.
Eventually the now-in-limbo Nature Restoration Law had money elements added, but it was too little too late for a minority of the national ministers who rejected it – scrambling backwards, dragged away from facing the reality of climate and biodiversity collapse by fear, weakness and narrow sectorial interests.

A significant majority of Europeans, and of member states wants the Nature Restoration Law. It might just set us on a course that might help us cope with the future we’re facing. And its being binned.

Yes the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) of 2027 was always key to unlocking when money and supports for all these EU Green Deal elements would flow, but people don’t find the flavour of ‘pie on the sky’, particularly appealing, to repurpose a very apt phrase from labour organiser Joe Hill in the 1900s.

The EU Green Deal was always under threat when panic set in, spurred on by the impacts but not the causes of polycrisis. 

Despite the flaws and reliance on future funding, it  is nevertheless a lost opportunity, a travesty and a tragedy that the proposed upgrading of rules and regulations around pesticides, food systems, nature and more will fall by the wayside.

We are in an ecocidal spiral and we’ve balked at the first real hurdle, at the first acknowledgement of the scale of the problem, the first comprehensive attempt to deal with it.

Just when we needed leaders, when we need to face up to reality, we got retraction, retrenchment and a return to a narrow interpretation of national interests.

Hope From the Ground Up

Workshop at Marburg November 2023

Somehow, hope still exists. It comes from the action in communities, which we keep finding in people all around Europe. 

Just as the Sustainable Food System Law was collapsing, we found an amazing crew in Marburg showing us how to do it in reality – as we also saw previously in Plessé. This is policy making from the ground up. This is bringing people together to work things out. 

Similarly, the proposal for a Land Observatory in Ireland is about bringing people together to assess, understand and propose how the rural space should be. And, like Plessé and Marburg, farmers are central to the process.

And finally, the Feeding Ourselves gathering in Ireland saw an amazing coming together of dozens of organizations working on policy, on local food frameworks, on agri knowledge, and on land access.

From terra firma up, better policy making happens. Indeed, those four areas just outlined emerged as new informal working groups, which rose organically from the four day Feeding Ourselves event and how it transpired. 

The Land Observatory idea in part came from clear thinking from a wide range of people at Feeding Ourselves, thinking deeply and compassionately about what regions need to do to solve a multitude of social and ecological problems.

This is working together. And all of this  – the bad news and the good news – is what’s in this seasonal Spring to Summer newsletter. Do have a read, sign up – its free! – or check the links below.
As European elections come up, politicians will be elected who will help or hinder progress at the macro legislative level. We’ll be covering that. But we’ll also cover things happen on, and from, the ground too. We need it all. The stakes are far too high. 


The Case for a Land Observatory in Ireland

Green Light Now, Green Fight Later – CAP Fast Track Risks Legal Wrangle

Neoliberal Limits – Farmer Protests, Elections and the Far Right

Sustainable Food Systems | Feeding Ourselves Across Europe

Feeding Ourselves 2024 – Unlocking Local Food Economies

Seven things I learned at Feeding Ourselves 2024

Protests and Love – France’s Farmer Organisations, Demonstrations and Social Alliances

Letter From The Farm | A Flamenco Approach to Rural Resilience

Future-Proof Food Systems in Europe – A Call for Action

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About Oliver Moore 216 Articles

Dr. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC.

A propos d'Oliver Moore
Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activité professionnelle. Il peut néanmoins admirer par la fenêtre de son bureau les mésanges charbonnières et les corbeaux perchés au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cœur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisés, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant à la communauté. Les jours où il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sèches et les jardins familiaux. 

Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant également des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »). 

Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne également des cours sur le Master en coopératives, agroalimentaire et développement durable à l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large.

Il consacre la majorité de son temps de travail à l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date à laquelle l’Irlande a assuré la présidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est là qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grâce à sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. Après six mois, il est nommé rédacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des médias sociaux, aide à définir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois même rédige un article pour le site web. 

À l’époque où on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, où il a aidé des ONG irlandaises de commerce équitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – à raconter leur histoire.

Il se peut que ces jours-là reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de préférer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. Après tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilités de bénévolat dans la communauté dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.