EU - Nutrition

Nutrition is an important priority of the EU   

Nutrition is an important priority for the European Union (EU). Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System (CRS), suggests that the European Union Institutions (EUI, including the EU and European Investment Bank, or EIB) disbursed US$90 million to nutrition-specific projects in 2020. These are projects that are classified under the ‘basic nutrition’ purpose code.  According to data from the Global Nutrition Report for 2020, the European Commission also contributed US$471 million to nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2019.

Within this sector, the EU has defined three goals as outlined in its ‘2014 Action Plan for Nutrition’. These are:

  1. Increasing commitments to nutrition at the country and international level;
  2. Strengthening human and institutional capacity at the country level, supporting the development of nutrition strategies and policies; and
  3. Investing in research, information systems, and technical support the implementation of nutrition initiatives.

The EU has made efforts toward achieving these goals. In 2017, the EUI disbursed €3.5 billion (US$3.9 billion) for 2014-2020 to fight malnutrition through agriculture, education, water, and social protection projects (nutrition-sensitive) and has committed more than €8.8 billion (US$10.0 billion) for food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture interventions in 61 countries. 

Between 2014 and 2017, the EU committed2.5 billion (US$2.9 billion) to nutrition-related actions. Under an initiative aimed at addressing ‘hidden hunger’ (vitamin and mineral deficiencies that often go undetected), the EU aims to significantly reduce the number of children under five who suffer from growth stunting and associated cognitive under-development.

Nutrition-specific: Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Nutrition-sensitive: Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

The EU is a strong supporter of multilateral initiatives on nutrition and supports multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue on the topic

  • The EU is involved in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which includes civil society, business, UN, and donor networks for 61 SUN countries committed to delivering progress on nutrition;
  • In May 2020, the European Commission released its Farm to Fork strategy (F2F). The F2F aims to make the EU a global standard-setter on sustainable food systems and to support the global transition to sustainable agri-food systems through international cooperation and trade policy. This will be done by engaging with trade partners (particularly in low- and middle-income countries) on sustainable food system policies, creating green alliances, and facilitating international cooperation on food research and innovation. 
  • In December 2021, at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in Tokyo, the European Commission announced a pledge of €2.5 billion (US$2.9 billion) for 2021-2024 to reduce all forms of malnutrition in EU partner countries worldwide; and
  • In March 2022, in response to increasing global food insecurity, the European Commission joined eight global Coalitions for Action (Food is Never Waste, Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems for Children & All, School Meals Coalition, Aquatic and Blue Foods, Agro-ecology, Zero Hunger, Fighting Food Crises Along the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus, and Sustainable Productivity Growth) to support the transformation of food systems in EU partner countries worldwide

DG INTPA’s Directorate F ‘Green Deal, Digital Agenda’ leads the EU’s nutrition policy development and decision making

Nutrition policy development and decision making happen in the EU’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA; formerly called the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, or DG DEVCO) – which is overseen by the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen.

Directorate F, ‘Green Deal, Digital Agenda, is the lead directorate for nutrition policy under the Unit F.3, ‘Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries’. The Head of Unit F.3, Leonard Mizzi, directs Commission staff working on this sector.