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Trade in turbulent times

The European Commission set the strategic direction for the EU`s agri-food system in the Farm to Fork Strategy to reduce greenhouse emissions on the continent. Europe is highly dependent on food imports, with over 20% of its food supply coming from other countries. This reliance on foreign trade exposes the EU to potential disruptions and price fluctuations, making it vulnerable in times of change. Challenges such as climate change, the security and resilience of Europe’s agri-food sector, and recent geopolitical events shine a light on the significance of trade.

Resilience versus self-sufficiency?

There is no easy answer to this dichotomy, as both approaches have their trade-offs. On one hand, resilience focuses on strengthening the ability of the agri-food sector to withstand and recover from external shocks, while self-sufficiency aims for reduced reliance on imports by producing more food domestically.

Both approaches have their merits and disadvantages. Building resilience requires investing in technology and innovation, diversifying trade partners, and enhancing risk management strategies. On the other hand, promoting self-sufficiency can benefit local producers and reduce the EU’s trade deficit, but it can also lead to higher production costs and therefore, higher prices for consumers or negative environmental impacts. So what is the answer?

In order to navigate through turbulent times, a balanced approach is necessary. The EU must continue to invest in innovation and technology to strengthen the agri-food sector’s ability to adapt and recover from crises. At the same time, efforts should also be made to support and promote domestic production while taking into account sustainability and environmental considerations such as not using more land and water for food production.


In the face of turbulent times, the answer is not self-sufficiency versus resilience but preparedness and stability. The EU must continue to take proactive steps towards achieving a more sustainable and secure food system while also acknowledging the importance of trade in ensuring a steady supply of food. A balanced approach that combines both resilience and self-sufficiency can help mitigate risks and promote a more stable and secure agri-food sector for the future. So, it is important for the EU to continue to monitor and address challenges in trade while working towards a more resilient and sustainable agri-food industry. Ultimately, this will not only benefit Europe’s economy but also contribute to global food security.

What’s clear is that it is not one or the other. Only through a comprehensive and balanced approach can the agri-food sector thrive in turbulent times.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn authored by Łukasz Woźniacki

And here is a video from the event “The importance of trade for EU agri-food competitiveness and sustainable innovation: resilience v self-sufficiency?” organised by CropLife Europe