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EU actions to enhance global food security

Strengthening food systems around the world through humanitarian assistance and international cooperation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is endangering food security for millions of people around the world, particularly in low-income countries that depend on food and fertiliser imports.

The European Union is taking steps to ensure that global food security is restored through international cooperation. It is also mobilising humanitarian aid and support to the most affected farmers.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine reverberates around the world. It is about the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world who fear they will not be able to afford to heat their homes or feed their children.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
ursula von der leyen

Russia’s aggression is driving the global food crisis

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had an immediate impact on food security for millions of people around the world. Costs throughout the food supply chain have increased. The increase in costs of energy and fertiliser have destabilised the agricultural markets, and trade flows to and from Ukraine and Russia are disrupted.

Ukraine alone provides more than half of the World Food Programme’s wheat supply. The shelling and bombing make it impossible for Ukrainian farmers to sow.

Russia is deliberately targeting and destroying agricultural machinery, food stocks, and processing and transport capacities in Ukraine.

Russia is restricting its food exports and blocking hundreds of ships filled with wheat in the Black Sea.

EU sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus do not target the agricultural sector. The purchase, import and transport of agricultural and food products are exempted from the ban on Russian-flagged vessels.

EU response

The EU, as a long standing and reliable partner for countries around the world, is working to ensure global food security and build resilient food systems.

Food availability is currently not at stake in the EU, since the continent is largely self-sufficient for many agricultural products. However, our agricultural sector is a net importer of specific products, for example feed protein. This vulnerability, together with high input costs, such as fertilisers and fossil energy, is causing production challenges for farmers and risks driving up food prices.

The European Commission is proposing a range of short-term and medium-term actions to enhance global food security and to support farmers and consumers in the EU in light of rising food prices and input costs.

We are:

helping to get grain out of Ukraine

supporting vulnerable populations

stepping up our food production

removing restrictions on food trade and promoting multilateralism

Strengthening global food security

€8 billion
invested by the EU for food security worldwide (2020-2024)
Over 70 countries
will be supported in increasing resilience of their food systems

Global impact of reduced crop production

The Commission is committed to taking all necessary measures to ensure that the EU, as a net food exporter and top agri-food producer, contributes to global food security. The EU is a lead provider of humanitarian and development assistance to food and food systems.

Both humanitarian needs and costs are likely to increase and put additional pressure on humanitarian assistance. Since 2015, the EU has spent a minimum of €350 million per year for humanitarian food assistance. Between 2020 and 2024, the EU is investing €8 billion for food security worldwide. In the period 2021-27 the EU will support food systems in about 70 partner countries.

  • On 6 April, the EU and Member States pledged over €1 billion to address food security in the Sahel. 
  • On 26 April, the EU and Member States pledged €633 million for urgent support and to strengthen food systems and resilience in the Horn of Africa.
  • On 24 September, the EU allocated €600 million to the most vulnerable African, Caribbean and Pacific countries hit by food crisis.

  • On 14 November, the Commission announced a new humanitarian aid package of €210 million for 15 countries most affected by the devastating effects of rising food insecurity.

For the Southern Neighbourhood region, the EU has adopted a support package of €225 million to mitigate the effects of potential emerging food crises due to high dependence on food imports disrupted by the war.

Moreover, the EU will continue to strongly advocate to avoid export restrictions and export bans on food, as well as for a well-functioning single market.

This profound crisis confirms that we need to accelerate globally the food system transition towards sustainability and resilience to better prepare for future crises. As a follow-up to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, the Commission is engaging in eight global coalitions that all aim for food system transformation, resilience and sustainable productivity growth.

Support to Ukraine

The EU is working hard to get grain blocked in Ukraine out to global markets, to be able to provide Ukrainians with much needed revenues and the World Food Programme with the supplies it badly needs.

The EU is opening solidarity lanes and financing different modes of transportation so that Ukraine's grain can reach the world’s most vulnerable countries.

EU Solidarity Lanes
Key corridors for Ukraine's agricultural exports
15 million tones
Agricultural products from Ukraine exported thanks to the EU Solidarity Lanes
€1 billion
Invested by the Commission and its partners to maintain and boost the lanes' capacities

The EU is also stepping up its own production to ease pressure on global food markets, and working with the World Food Programme so that available stocks and additional products can reach vulnerable countries at affordable prices.

The Commission is also supporting Ukraine in developing and implementing a short and medium term food security strategy to ensure that contributions reach farms where possible, and that transportation and storage facilities are maintained to enable the country to feed its citizens and to eventually regain control of its export markets.

EU solidarity with Ukraine

Support for EU farmers

€500 million will be distributed in national allocations to directly support farmers most affected by higher input costs and the closure of export markets. EU countries can complement this support up to 200% with national funds.

To address cash flow difficulties currently facing farmers, EU countries will be allowed to pay increased levels of CAP direct payments in advance.

The Commission has already:

  • granted an exceptional and temporary derogation to allow the production of crops on land set aside within the EU, while maintaining full greening payments for farmers
  • proposed a new Temporary Crisis Framework that would also cover farmers, fertiliser producers and the fisheries sector

The Commission will also introduce market safety net measures to support the pigmeat market in light of the particularly difficult situation facing the sector.

Support for EU consumers

Measures to improve the supply of food staples will help to ease price pressures.

EU Member States may also implement reduced rates of value added tax and encourage economic operators to contain retail prices.

In addition, Member States can draw from EU funds such as the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) which supports EU countries’ actions to provide food and/or basic material assistance to the most deprived.

Resilience and sustainability of our food systems

Enhancing resilience by reducing the dependency of European agriculture on energy, energy intensive imports and feed imports is now more of a necessity than ever before. Resilience requires diversified import sources and market outlets through a robust multilateral and bilateral trade policy.

Translations of the webpage in Arabic and Swahili

General publications22 December 2022
Translation of the webpage in Arabic
General publications22 December 2022
Translation of the webpage in Swahili