New European Commission President elected

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On Tuesday, 16th July former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, was confirmed by the European Parliament as the new president of the European Commission, replacing Jean-Claude Junker. She secured the position with a narrow margin of nine votes in the secret ballot.

The previous day the new Commission President published a document entitled ‘A Union that strives for more - My agenda for Europe’, before outlining her plans for her term in a speech to MEPs. Mrs von der Leyen expressed her regret over Brexit but confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement remains the only deal possible for an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU. She said that should more time be required she would support a further extension to the Article 50 process if sufficient reasons were provided.

Mrs von der Leyen announced that she would be presenting a ‘Green Deal for Europe’ - aiming to make the EU the first carbon neutral continent, including enshrining in law the goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

She also committed to bringing forward a Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 cutting across trade, industry, agriculture and economic policy. On farming she said:“We must preserve the vital work our farmers do to provide Europeans with nutritious, affordable and safe food. This is only possible if they can make a decent living for their families. We will support our farmers with a new ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’ on sustainable food along the whole value chain.”

Mrs Von der Leyen also confirmed that she wants to continue with the EU’s strong, open and fair trade agenda. She plans to swiftly conclude the ongoing negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, to pursue other deals if the conditions are right and wishes to work towards a ‘balanced’ and ‘mutually beneficial’ partnership with the US.

Commission reaches conclusion on UAN fertilizer anti-dumping case

The European Commission has published its conclusion of the inquiry into claims that UAN fertilizer was being dumped on the EU market by the USA, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago. The Commission has concluded that a degree of dumping did take place and as such, it supports the continued application of duties in order to protect the EU fertilizer manufacturing industry.

The NFU alongside other European farming unions including the Irish Farmers’ Association, gave evidence to DG Trade during the inquiry and argued that the high level of duties currently applied means that EU UAN prices are consistently above world prices.

UAN use is concentrated in the arable sector and volatility in UAN prices directly translate into farm input costs. It is estimated that the antidumping measures currently in place add an additional cost of €40m to UK farmers every year.

However, despite supporting the application of duties the Commission propose that the existing ad valorem duties should be replaced with a fixed specific duty.

It is a small though positive piece of news for EU farmers, with prices continuing to rise the cost of the duty will at least remain fixed.

This proposal from the Commission will now progress for approval by member states at the TDI (trade defensive instruments) committee in DG Trade at their September meeting.