From vertical farming to fair health pricing, panelists offer new ideas on the future of the EU

The Conference on the Future of Europe continued from Warsaw, where 200 Europeans attended the event from January 7-9, 2022, in the form of the third and final panel of European citizens dedicated to climate change, to environment and health.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, some panel members joined remotely.

The five main areas of focus were: better lifestyles, protecting our environment and our health, reorienting our economy, reorienting overproduction and overconsumption, and caring for all.

Of the 64 recommendations that were voted on, 51 were adopted and 13 did not reach the threshold of 70% support.

“It is a victory for all, from a practical and moral point of view… The citizen takes center stage here and lives the policy, the moment and the complications which result from it and tries to find solutions to improve the things. People feel included. The citizen is part of the system, ”said Celestino, an Italian panelist.

Panelists recommended that the EU provide subsidies for organic farming and support for the new vertical farming, where crops are grown in layers on top of each other, increasing efficiency and production capacity for the same square meter used.

Citizens also pushed for EU-wide minimum standards for food quality in school canteens as well as recommended food production to be part of public education. An EU urban development directive aimed at making cities greener was a crowd favorite in conjunction with calls for more support for cyclists and investment in new cycle lanes.

Panelists called for a unified labeling system that would explain the full ecological footprint of products purchased within the EU as well as labels explaining the role of hormonal substances in food products.

Panelists also wanted higher taxes on unhealthy food to discourage consumption and a Europe-wide rating system for healthy foods.

The citizens were in favor of a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. To protect biodiversity, they want existing protected areas to be extended and for rapid and large-scale reforestation projects to be enlightened. The gradual cessation of intensive animal husbandry has also been called for.

Participants recommended that the EU encourage longer product use by extending their warranties and setting a maximum price for spare parts.

Stricter environmental manufacturing standards, which should also apply to imported goods, and measures to limit advertising of products that harm the environment were the main demand.

Reorienting overproduction and overconsumption

The panelists want the EU to make CO2 filters mandatory, especially for coal-fired power stations. They want to tackle pollution by fining polluters and reducing the amount of imported goods that do not meet EU ecological footprint standards.

Member States should be supported to improve connectivity in rural areas, while promoting affordable public transport and encouraging the purchase of electric vehicles and investment in the development of other non-polluting technologies.

“I think it is very important to talk about these topics and we have made many interesting suggestions and recommendations. So I really hope that European politicians follow up on this by listening to our opinions, listening to citizens’ voices and taking action that is in the interest of EU citizens, ”said Nina, a German panelist. .

Take care of all

Panelists suggested reforms to EU treaties that would introduce a legal basis for more EU action on health. They believe that health treatment across the EU should be of equal quality and at a fair cost. Citizens suggested that a new European purchasing agency could negotiate better prices for medicines for all member states at once

Citizens also believe that women’s health products should stop being viewed as luxury goods and see the associated taxes reduced. Another recommendation was that EU countries should include mental health and sex education in their school curricula.

Representatives of the panel will present and debate the recommendations at the next plenary conference on January 21-22, 2022 in Strasbourg. The plenary will also be made up of representatives of the European institutions, national parliaments, civil society and citizens.

The final results of the Conference will be presented in a report to the Presidents of the Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, who have pledged to act on these recommendations.

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