On top of an increase in imports of Tunisian olive oil, Italy is also worried about competition from Moroccan tomato growers. EurActiv Italy reports.
Commercial agreements between the European Union and third countries are once again raising concerns about potential damage to the European agricultural sector. The Mediterranean member states, in particular Spain and Italy, have requested greater protection from the Agriculture and Fisheries Council to guard against the threat of competition from the Moroccan tomato-growing industry.
“We asked for the safeguard clause to be activated,” explained Italian Minister for Agriculture Maurizio Martina, in relation to the bilateral agreements with North African countries currently in force, specifically, with Morocco. Italy also requested that the withdrawal price be raised, which would act as “a stop-gap measure that would bring balance to a situation that is quite unbalanced”.
Meeting with the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels, Martina also expressed his disapproval of EU plans to increase the amount of duty-free olive oil that can be imported into the internal market. The plan has already been roundly criticised by both Rome and the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (ComAgri).
Agricultural ministers from around Europe have also revisited the crisis still afflicting the dairy sector. The EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, said that “I am not satisfied with the situation, which needs not only a response from the member states, but from EU.” Hogan also asked the ministers present at the meeting to submit proposals on how to tackle the crisis by 25 February.
When it comes to the dairy industry, and animal husbandry in general, “there needs to be a greater effort”, added Martina. The process of providing aid to farmers, which amounted to around €25 million for Italy, finalised by the Commission in September, is still being prepared, added the minister. Martina also emphasised that the measures provided by the executive have, so far, been short-term in scope and do nothing to “reorganise the European dairy market”.