From vertical farming to fair pricing on health, panellists propose new ideas on EU future

A look at the ideas proposed at the Warsaw Conference on the Future of Europe

Panelists recommended that the EU give subsidies for organic farming and support for new vertical farming, where crops are grown in layers on top of each other which increases efficiency and productive capacity for the same square-metre used
Panelists recommended that the EU give subsidies for organic farming and support for new vertical farming, where crops are grown in layers on top of each other which increases efficiency and productive capacity for the same square-metre used

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

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

The five principal areas of attention were: better ways of living, protecting our environment and our health, redirecting our economy, redirecting overproduction and overconsumption, and caring for all.

From the 64 recommendations that were voted on 51 were adopted and 13 failed to meet the 70% support threshold.

“This is a win for all, in a practical and moral sense… The citizen takes center-stage here and experiences politics, the moment and the complications that come with this and tries to find solutions to improve things. People feel included. The citizen is part of the system,” said Celestino, a panelist from Italy.

Panelists recommended that the EU give subsidies for organic farming and support for new vertical farming, where crops are grown in layers on top of each other which increases efficiency and productive capacity for the same square-metre used.

The citizens also pushed for EU-wide minimum standards for food quality in school canteens as well as recommended food production become part of public education. An EU directive on urban development to make cities greener was a crowd favorite in conjunction with calls for more support for cyclists and investment in new bike lanes.

Panel participants called for a unified labelling system that would explain the entire ecological footprint of products purchased within the EU as well as labels explaining the role of hormonal substances in food products.

The panelists also wanted higher taxes on unhealthy foods to discourage consumption and a European-wide scoring system for healthy food.

Citizens were in favour of a drastic reduction of the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. To protect biodiversity, they want the existing protected areas to be expanded and for rapid and large-scale reforestation projects to get greenlit. Gradual phasing-out of intensive animal farming was also asked for.

Participants recommended that the EU encourage the longer use of products by lengthening their warranties and setting a maximum price on spare parts.

Stricter environmental manufacturing standards, which should also apply to imported goods and measures to limit advertising for products that damage the environment was the main request.

Redirecting overproduction and overconsumption

Panelists want the EU to make CO2 filters mandatory, especially for coal plants. They want to tackle pollution by imposing fines on polluters and reducing the amount of imported goods that don’t meet the EU’s ecological footprint standards.

Member states should be supported in improving the connectivity of rural areas, while incentivising affordable public transport and promoting the purchase of electric vehicles and investment in developing other non-polluting technologies.

“I think it’s very important to talk about these topics and we’ve come up with a lot of great suggestions and recommendations. So I really hope that EU politicians follow up on this by listening to our opinions, listening to the citizens’ voices and taking action that is in the interest of the EU citizens,” said Nina, a panelist from Germany.

Caring for all

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

Citizens also think female sanitary products should stop being considered as luxury goods and have the associated taxes reduced. Another recommendation was that EU countries should include mental health and sexual education in their school curricula.

Representatives of the panel will present and debate the recommendations at the next Conference Plenary on 21-22 January 2022 in Strasbourg. The plenary will be composed also of representatives from   EU 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 committed to following up on these recommendations

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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