Food Policy in Europe

Since 2015, the launch of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and the launch of the Food Policy have strenghtened the activities that the Municipality of Milan carries out at European level to promote a new role for cities in defining sustainable food systems. Milan is active in the exchange of good practices with other European cities, in advocacy with the European Commission and in active participation in project partnerships.

Eurocities Working Group Food

EUROCITIES is the main association of European cities that acts to facilitate exchanges on policies, projects and advocacy at EU institutions. It acts through thematic Working Groups participated and animated by the cities interested in those themes. The signing of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact led in 2016 to the creation of the Working Group Food (WG Food), the working group on food chaired by the Municipality of Milan through the Food Policy Office. Up to now 51 cities have joined (see map below).

The working group is carrying out an intense activity to promote food policies within the European institutions, in particular with the Health and Food Safety Directorate (DG Sante), the Directorate for International Cooperation and Development (DG Devco), and the Directorate for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio). WG food and the Municipality of Milan also conducted the Food in Cities study in which some of the most innovative experiences in the field of food policies implemented by European cities were collected. The study, commissioned by the Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) helped to include urban food policies in the themes of the Horizon 2020 calls, which support research and innovation in the European Union. 21 WG Food cities participated in the study by taking part in targeted surveys and interviews.

Since its foundation in 2016, the food working group has met in Birmingham (February 2017) with a focus on school canteens; in Valencia (October 2017) for a discussion with DG RTD, in Amsterdam (April 2018) with a discussion on food waste and a comparison with the direction of the European Commission that deals with health and food safety (DG SANTE).

EU Platform for Food Losses & Waste 

Created in 2016 by DG SANTE, the Directorate General of the European Commission dealing with health, food and food safety, this platform is a working group chaired by Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis which includes three main actors: the European Commission, the 27 Member States and private organizations. The Municipality of Milan is the only European local authority to be part of the working group and is promoting the role of European cities against food waste. In 2017, the Platform contributed to defining the EU Guidelines on Food Donation. Since 2018 it is acting on sharing experiences and working on circular economy.

DG SANTE – EU Platform Food Losses and Waste


The TRiFOCAL (Life +) project aims to reduce food waste, promote sustainable eating habits and the recycling of products that cannot be saved. The project aims to test an awareness campaign with an innovative approach in order to encourage:

  • the prevention of food waste by improving the planning, purchase, storage and preparation of meals
  • the promotion of a healthy and sustainable diet by changing the way people shop, store products and cook meals;
  • recycling of food waste.

The project is based in London and is managed by WRAP (Waste and Resourches Action Program), the Municipality of Milan is involved in the project as an observer and “replicant city” together with the cities of Brussels, Oslo, Sofia, Barcelona, Dublin, Burgas and Vaxjo.

Interreg CIRCE

Interreg – CircE project on the circular economy applied to food waste issues

The Municipality of Milan participates in the stakeholder group of the Lombardy Region (DG Environment) in the context of the CircE project on the circular economy to identify mechanisms and incentives to promote the circular economy within the calls of the European Fund for Regional Development (POR ERDF). The Lombardy Region (lead partner), London – WRAP, the municipality of Sofia, as well as other local authorities from the Netherlands, Poland, France, Slovenia and Spain participate in the Interreg project. The Lombardy Region has chosen to focus on the issues of food waste by asking the Municipality of Milan to bring the Food Policy experience. Various Lombard economic clusters participate in the CircE stakeholder group.

DG RTD – Food2030

During Expo 2015 the European Commission launched Food2030, a new research strategy to respond to the challenges related to the sustainability of the food system. It focuses on four themes:

  • Healthy and sustainable diets (nutrition);
  • Sustainable food systems and climate smart;
  • Efficient use of resources (circularity);
  • Innovation and empowerment of communities.

This is a transversal initiative in which both the Municipality of Milan and the Cariplo Foundation are active.

Milan is a partner of the European Fit4Food project, funded by the Horizon 2020 program with the aim of creating a platform that connects researchers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and more generally exponents of civil society on the themes of the FOOD2030 strategy: innovation, sustainable food, circular economy. The aim is to increase knowledge of changes affecting the food system, collect and disseminate good practices, increase awareness and the ability to plan the future of sustainable food.

IPES European Food Policy

IPES_Food is an international panel of high-level experts, co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter, former UN special representative for the right to food, who is working to promote a European food policy: a common strategy that systemically addresses related issues to food, able to go beyond the Community Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is focused only on few aspects. The process initiated by IPES-Food includes a series of thematic meetings (policy labs) hosted by the European Parliament and some local labs, organized by European cities (Milan, Turin, Friborg, Montpellier) active on urban food policies. Milan hosted a local lab in January 2018 and saw the participation of about 80 players from the Milanese food system who discussed and interacted with IPES-Food on the issues of governance, city-countryside relationship, European advocacy.

DG REGIO – International Urban Cooperation

The Municipality of Milan participates in the city-to-city program of the European Commission of the Directorate for Regional and Urban Policy for the exchange of experiences between European cities with non-European cities. The Municipality of Milan, through the European Affairs Unit, the Secretariat of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and the Food Policy Office, participated with the delegation of DG REGIO at the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur in February 2018 to present the experiences to Milan and in Europe on food policies developed by cities.