New year, new me! What is the EU cooking for you in 2019?
If you are like me, you surely have over-eaten during the holiday season and it’s very likely that your New Year’s resolution is to have a healthier diet in 2019. Surveys show that although it’s the most common resolution, it is also the hardest one to keep! But you are not alone in this challenge. Indeed, policy-makers also want to nudge you to adopt a healthier lifestyle. So let’s see what the European Union has in its legislative drawers in 2019 to help you keep up with your resolutions.
Resolution 1: Healthier Eating
Picking the right food for a balanced diet is not an easy task. Interpretative nutritional labels such as the UK Traffic Light or the French Nutri-Score are getting traction amongst consumers who see them as helpful tools when grocery shopping. These colour-coded labelling schemes are still voluntary, but the multiplication of them might leave the European Commission with no choice but to harmonise and adopt a single EU scheme. President Juncker has no appetite (!) for more EU food legislation, so it will be up to the new Commission to decide whether it leaves nutrition policies up to Member States only.
Resolution 2: Drink More Wisely
That’s actually my resolution for 2019: I am starting the year with a Dry January. No discrimination here, it is all alcoholic drinks that are concerned by my personal but – thank god – temporary restrictions. Treating all alcoholic drinks alike or not might be a more difficult call for the European Commission in 2019 when it comes to ingredient and calorie labelling. A year after the industry has put forward its proposal for self-regulation, the Commission still has to decide whether to adopt binding labelling requirements applying to all alcoholic drinks alike, or have different rules for wine, beer, and spirits.
Resolution 3: Green Up Your Diet
If Dry January is not for you, you may want to opt for “Veganuary” instead! Reducing our consumption of animal products (even just one day a week), in particular red meat, is a very easy yet very positive change for your health and for the environment. The issue is becoming political: even in Davos, world leaders will be discussing how our current food production and consumption patterns need to change to meet the protein needs of a 10 billion world population in 2050. Will the EU Plant Protein strategy be enough to respond to these challenges? Or will policy-makers try and resist change by regulating the use of terms such as “vegetarian sausage”? One thing is clear, it will not be possible to meet the Paris Agreement targets without addressing the environment impact of the EU livestock sector…
Needless to say that EU officials will have a lot on their plate, but it remains to be seen if national governments and stakeholders are hungry for change.