Farmers in crisis given new CAP tools, Russian phytosanitary ban continues

EPA / LAURENT DUBRULE

A few people look at pigs in an enclosure installed outside of the European Union Agriculture ministers meeting venue in Brussels, Belgium, 14 March 2016. Farmers protest against low selling prices.

The European Commission has sought to address the severe market imbalances in dairy and meat market, while looking to take a step towards the lifting of unjustified or disproportionate phytosanitary measures on third countries, including Russia.


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With a package of exceptional measures in order to complete the €500 million support package announced last September, Agriculture and Rural Developement Commissioner Phil Hogan, addressed to the Agriculture Council on Monday.

“This is a package of measures which can have a material and positive impact on European agricultural markets and it should now be given the chance to succeed”, said Hogan.

Hogan announced the additional measures planned by the European Commission, which use all the tools available in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These measures offer support to EU farmers, while at the same time, aiming to the protection of the EU internal market.

“We must use the appropriate instruments and actions to enable farmers to be resilient in the face of volatility whilst providing immediate assistance to them. Today’s response is a comprehensive one, taking on board as many of the proposals as can be done, within the legal and budgetary constraints that apply to all of us. I believe that this is a package of measures which, when taken with the full implementation of the September solidarity package, can have a material and positive impact on European agricultural markets and it should now be given the chance to succeed.” Hogan stressed.

The European Commission has managed to mobilize more than €1 billion in 2 years time, together with last September’s package.

In order to address the severe market imbalances that have been observed in the dairy sector, the European Commission will activate Article 222 of the Common Market Organisation (CMO Regulation. This will be done by enabling the possibility to enable producer organisations, interbranch organisations and cooperatives in the dairy sector to establish voluntary agreements on their production and supply, for a limited period of time. This, after the Commission concluded that the strict conditions for the application of this article to the dairy sector are fulfilled for the time being.

The acute measurements include a temporary increase in state aid, that would allow Member States to provide to a maximum of €15,000 per farmer per year. In addition, the Commission aims to increase the quantity ceilings for skimmed milk powder and butter put into intervention from 109,000 tonnes and 60,000 tonnes respectively to 218,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes, as a means of supporting the fixed intervention price.

As far as meat market is concerned, a Meat Market Observatory will be set up, covering beef and pork, as it has been done in 2014, when Milk Market Observatory was set. In relation to negotiations on TTIP and Mercosur, the European Commission appears ready to launch a differentiated treatment of sensitive products.

A lift of the phytosanitary Russian ban is also in sight. However despite the efforts to try to ensure a rapid resumption of trade between the EU and Russia, “very little has happened”. Progress in lifting of unjustified or disproportionate phytosanitary measures by third countries has been observed in the US, Japanese, Brazilian and Ukrainian markets. What’s more, the Commission plans a prolongation of the exceptional measures for Fruit and Vegetables, coming from the Russian ban that is to expire on 30 June.

Finally, engagement of European Commission with European Investment Bank/European Fund for Strategic Investments (EIB) in order to develop tools to improve the competitiveness of those enterprises or to invest in making any necessary structural adjustments is planned. Member States should also encourage setting up dedicated platforms for EFSI financing, the Commission said.

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