Copa-Cogeca: EU aid package is ‘a move forward’

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Reacting to the EU aid package agreed by EU Farm Ministers, Copa and Cogeca said it’s a move forward and has the potential to alleviate pressure hitting the EU agricultural markets but we first have to see how it will work in practice.

In an initial reaction, Copa President Martin Merrild said: “The package is a step forward but we need to see how it pans out. Many farmers across Europe are facing the worst crisis since the early 1980s. The EU dairy and pigmeat sectors are bleeding.

“They were hit by the loss of our main export market Russia - worth 5.1 billion euros. The Russian market must be reopened as soon as possible. The proposed measures on state aid and increase of de minimis may help some farmers, but it is a step away from a common EU policy that should shoulder the consequences of international policy developments.

“This package agreed today has the potential to help improve the crisis, especially some of the market management measures, use of export credit insurance and additional financial instruments. It is also good that the EU milk market observatory has been extended to other sectors other than dairy. But I urge Ministers to step up payments of the 500 million euros package released by the EU last September as only part of the aid has been paid out”, he added.

Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson went on to welcome the fact that the EU has stepped up its commitment to boost promotion measures and find new markets.

“It is also good that the Commission has prioritized its engagement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) in order to develop the right financial instruments to help farmers invest in their businesses and improve competitiveness,” he added.

Copa and Cogeca welcome the fact that there has been some strengthening of the market tools in the package, including a doubling of the intervention ceilings for skimmed milk powder and butter. But they regret that there was no temporary increase in the EU intervention price for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter to reflect the soaring production costs and market realities. Also the market tools for the fruit and vegetables sector, including review of the withdrawal price, has not been done.

The package of measures agreed by Ministers includes:

* Finding new markets;

* Reinforcement of promotion measures and use of export credit insurance;

* Adaptation of tools to manage key commodity markets: doubling of the ceilings for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter and reactivation of pork private storage aid;

* Loan/debt relief for investments, state aid, and adjustment of the ceiling for de minimis aid.

* Voluntary measures to give farmers and their cooperatives instruments to organize their production within a sector (Article 222).

* Extension of EU milk market observatory to other sectors other than dairy