EU farmers will get financial help of up to €125 million to help them cope with the impact of Russia’s ban on most Western food imports, which has created a glut of fruit and vegetables in peak harvest time, the European Commission said on Monday (18 August).
Russia has declared a one-year embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for Western economic sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
The Commission said it was drawing on provisions in the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which includes an emergency reserve of some €420 million in total to compensate for market disruption.
The money will be available between now and the end of November.
“With effect from today, I am triggering CAP emergency measures which will reduce the overall supply of a number of fruit and vegetable products on the European market as and when price pressures become too great in the coming months,” Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolo? said.
“All farmers of the concerned products, whether in producer organisations or not, will be eligible to take up these market support measures.”
The aim is to reduce some of the surplus in the market by giving producers funding to compensate for fruit and vegetables either withdrawn from the market and distributed free or not harvested in the first place.
Products covered by the measures will include tomatoes, cauliflowers, mushrooms, grapes, cucumbers, white cabbage and other products in season, lacking storage options and having no immediate alternative markets to make up for the absence of Russia.
A week ago, the Commission, the EU executive, announced it would provide financial support for peach and nectarine growers.
The farmers’ situation will be assessed further at a meeting of agriculture experts representing member states on Friday and at an extraordinary meeting of EU agriculture ministers on 5 September.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz tweeted his support for the measure.
— EP President (@EP_President) August 18, 2014
Herring measures lifted
The Commission today also repealed the measures adopted against the Faroe Islands in August 2013, following their unsustainable fishing of Atlanto-Scandian herring. The measures imposed at the time will now be lifted as of 20 August 2014.
The decision comes after it was agreed that the Faroe Islands would cease their fishing practices and would adopt a catch limit for herring in 2014 at 40,000 tonnes.
The crisis in Ukraine erupted after its former President Viktor Yanukovich cancelled plans to sign trade and political pacts with the EU in November 2013 and instead sought closer ties with Russia, triggering protests that turned bloody and drove him from power.
Moscow annexed Crimea in March following a referendum staged after Russian forces established control over the Black Sea peninsula in the biggest East-West crisis since the Cold War.
Pro-Russian militants control buildings in more than ten towns in eastern Ukraine after launching their uprising on 6 April. On 11 May pro-Moscow rebels declared a resounding victory in a referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk, which the West called illegal and illegitimate.
The situation has worsened since then. In July, EU resolve to punish Russia strengthened after the downing in Ukraine earlier this month of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, killing all 298 people on board. 194 of the passengers were from the Netherlands.
Western leaders say pro-Russian rebels almost certainly shot the airliner down by mistake with a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile. Moscow has blamed Kyiv for the tragedy.
- 5 September: Extraordinary meeting of EU agriculture ministers