« EU Parliament majority asks for 'true pricing food products' and highest VAT tariff for products like meat»

Published on 09-09-2021

The EU Parliament today told Frans Timmermans Vice Chair of the EU Commission that his "Green Deal for Food" (Farm to Fork Strategy) is not green enough. Taxes are needed to include environmental costs in food prices (e.g. give food related GHG emissions a price). Healthy food has to become cheaper with a 0% VAT rate for vegetables and fruit. However meat and sugary drinks should no longer be in a low VAT tariff but go to the normal (high) tariff (in most EU countries this tariff is 20%). 

As was expected, today amendment 27 about changing "Food Environment and Food Prices" with a VAT tax reform was adopted by a majority of EU Parliament members of the Agriculture and Environment Committee (108 voted yes, 17 no, 3 abstained). See p. 142 https://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/239271/Results_ENVI-AGRI%20Voting%20Session%20F2F%20(amendments).pdf

This amendment  "Underlines that food prices must send the right signal to consumers; considers that true food prices, reflecting the true cost of production for farmers and also for the environment and society, are the most efficient way to achieve sustainable and equitable food systems in the long term". 

Amendment 27 says the EU parliament "supports giving Member States more flexibility to differentiate in the VAT rates on food with different health and environmental impacts, and enable them to choose a zero VAT tax for healthy and sustainable food products such as fruits and vegetables, as is already implemented in some Member States but not possible for all at this moment1a, and a higher VAT rate on unhealthy food and food that has a high environmental footprint".

(We all know meat products are food products with the highest environmental footprint per kg, and they have negative health impacts too, when eaten too much).

Another amendment 30 about 'Healthy diets' was also adopted (112 voted yes, 10 no, 5 abstained). This amendment is asking: "to address the overconsumption of meat and ultra-processed products". Europeans eat 68 kg meat per capita per year, while the EAT Lancet planetary health diet is 16 kg meat per capita per year. EU meat consumption is growing , see  recent European Court of Auditors report on climate & agriculture). 

Update 20th October 2021: 

All members of European Parliament voted 19th October about the amendments for the Farm to Fork Strategy. A large majority accepted most amendments already accepted 10th September

vote results can be seen here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/doc/news/flash/23721/P9_PV(2021)10-19(RCV)_en.docx

Update 10th September 2021:

Friday 10th September, the final vote for the full report with amendments for the Farm to Fork Strategy report was held by the ENVI and AGRI committees in the EU Parliament. The full report was accepted by a large majority (94 votes to 20 against). See press release from the EU Parliament 10th Sept:

The EU parliament draft report on the Farm to Fork Strategy and the list of 2000 + amendments can be read here: (agenda point 4, 9th Sept 2021) https://emeeting.europarl.europa.eu/emeeting/committee/en/agenda/202109/ENVI  The 2000+ amendments were reduced to 48 compromise / combined amendments 26th June 2021 by the co-chairs Anja Hazekamp (ENVI Committee) and Herbert Dorfmann (AGRI Committee). See their report including amendment 27 on food prices. Nearly all Christian Democrats voted for amendment 27 on food prices, like all liberals (RENEW), Social Democrats, Lefts and Greens did too.

The full European Parliament will have a plenary vote about the amendments made in the report about the Farm to Fork Strategy by the ENVI/AGRI committees later in October 2021. It is expected they will also agree with the amendments because of the large majorities in the powerful AGRI and ENVI Committees. 

European farmers (COPA COGECA) reacted with to fear: "new proposals could make it simply untenable for the agri-food sector". https://twitter.com/COPACOGECA/status/1436313168234623005?s=20

Animal welfare groups reacted happy, because meat consumption will be addressed, see this reaction from Compassion in World Farming EU: 

https://www.ciwf.eu/news/meps-call-for-eu-food-strategy-to-promote-plant-rich-diets/?utm_campaign=factoryfarming&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=ciwf

It was already expected by insiders that nearly all political groups in the EU Parliament would vote for amendment 27 for the Farm to Fork Strategy on food prices. The EU Parliament asks for a historical VAT tax reform on food to allow a 0% VAT tariff for sustainable and healthy food and to apply the highest VAT rate on unhealthy food and food that has a high environmental footprint (e.g. processed and red meat, sugary drinks). The Farm to Fork Strategy is the EU Green Deal for Food, proposed 20th May 2020 by Frans Timmermans, vice chair of the EU Commission. The EU Parliament now asks the Commission and Member States to reform the VAT system for food products, to really make sure sustainable and healthy food will be the most affordable option, instead of the most expensive option. A reform of VAT taxes on food products can both help to reduce food related greenhouse gas emissions (30% of all GHG-emissions) and improve healthy diets. 

Jeroom Remmers, director of True Animal Protein Price Coalition, a European network of food companies, farmers, youth, health, environmental and animal welfare groups said: "We asked the EU Parliament and the EU Commission to change food prices and include external environmental costs into fiscal systems. We are happy to see this historical support for our proposals in the EU Parliament too! The Commission and EU Member States cannot ignore this message to increase food prices for products like meat and sugar (we eat too much compared to national dietary guidelines) and decrease food prices for vegetables and fruits. European meat price increases can lead to a 3%-reduction of EU GHG-emissions and a 9 billion euro annual cut in European health care costs. Off course, tax reforms on food prices have to be fair for low income groups and farmers too, with compensation payments". 

This is the wording of the part on food prices in compromise amendment 27:

"Underlines that food prices must send the right signal to consumers; considers that true food prices, reflecting the true cost of production for farmers and also for the environment and society, are the most efficient way to achieve sustainable and equitable food systems in the long term (1786, 1751); welcomes, therefore, the strategy's objective to guide the food industry towards practices that make the healthy and sustainable choice the easy, accessible and (1307, 1780) affordable one for consumers; supports giving Member States more flexibility to differentiate in the VAT rates on food with different health and environmental impacts, and enable them to choose a zero VAT tax for healthy and sustainable food products such as fruits and vegetables, as is already implemented in some Member States but not possible for all at this moment1a, and a higher VAT rate on unhealthy food and food that has a high environmental footprint (1750, 1752, 1914, rapporteur 1793, 1803, / 1846); recalls that household expenditure on food products varies significantly across EU Member States and affordability should be ensured for consumers in all Member States, while also ensuring fair income for primary producers for their sustainable and healthy products (1766, 1767, 1768, 1769, 1772, 1778) and increasing transparency and consumers' awareness regarding the costs and profits related to each stage of the food supply chain (1751); invites the Commission to launch a study to quantify in economic terms the environmental and societal, including health-related, costs associated with the production and consumption of the most consumed food products on the EU market (1795, 1801, 1805)". 

27th January a consumer enquiry showed a majority of west Europeans support an intelligent meat tax, using its revenues to compensate consumers and farmers. 70% of German, French, Dutch consumers support 0% VAT rate on vegetables and fruits and a higher VAT rate on meat. source: https://www.dvj-insights.com/support-for-meat-tax-study-dvj-insights-tapp-coalition/

More info: 

Newscoverage: 

TV France journal 13 September 2021, 20h: https://www.francetvinfo.fr/sante/alimentation/taxes-la-tva-sur-la-viande-dans-le-viseur-du-parlement-europeen_4770183.html#xtor=RSS-3-%5Bsante%5D

Le Monde 10 September 2021: https://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2021/09/10/les-eurodeputes-lancent-le-debat-sur-une-tva-renforcee-pour-la-viande-et-supprimee-pour-les-fruits-et-legumes_6094239_3244.html

Dutch newspaper Volkskrant wrote a full page about TAPP Coalition director Jeroom Remmers and his successfull policy advocacy towards EU parliament on the Farm to Fork Strategy: 

https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/door-zijn-lobby-wil-het-europees-parlement-extra-belasting-heffen-op-vlees-en-groente-en-fruit-belastingvrij-maken~b6bf31310/

Previous amendments leading to the compromise amendments can be found here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/CJ14-AM-681105_EN.pdf

https://tappcoalition.eu/images/Amendments-EU-Farm-to-Fork-Strategy-1625154062.pdf

More info about the vote 9-10th September: 

https://tappcoalition.eu/nieuws/16592/farm-to-fork-

More info about TAPP Coalition reports 'Sustainability Charge on Meat' and 'Aligning Food Prices with the European Green Deal' presented 5th Feb 2020 at the EU Parliament: 

https://tappcoalition.eu/nieuws/13130/eu-parliament-to-discuss-dutch-proposal-for-a-fair-meat-price-5th-of-feb

More relevant news on European meat taxation eg. the World Bank urging governments to tax processed meat and sugar:

https://tappcoalition.eu/nieuws/pagina/4

https://tappcoalition.eu/nieuws

More info: Jeroom Remmers

Director TAPP Coalition

info@tappcoalitie.nl

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