The Widespread Agricultural Coverage’s disaster reserve may very well be used to assist farmers in international locations like Poland or Romania which can be scuffling with an inflow of grain from neighbouring Ukraine, in keeping with EU agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski.
Talking throughout a press convention following a global agriculture ministers’ convention in Berlin on Saturday (21 January), Wojciechowski acknowledged issues with the measures taken by the EU to assist export grain from war-torn Ukraine.
“We’re intently observing the influence of [agricultural] imports from Ukraine. They don’t have a adverse influence on the entire EU, however they do result in regional difficulties,” he stated whereas citing his residence nation Poland for example.
Again in Could 2022, the EU launched the so-called solidarity lanes, a set of measures meant to assist Ukraine export agricultural items by way of all attainable routes – together with rail, highway and river transport – within the face of disruptions brought on by Russia’s conflict.
However whereas the initiative was meant to facilitate transport by way of Ukraine’s neighbouring international locations to the broader EU and world markets, farmers and EU lawmakers have repeatedly warned that giant quantities of grain get caught in border areas, the place they crowd native producers out of the market.
Whereas the EU government had at first discarded the problem when it was first raised in autumn 2022, Wojciechowski’s feedback come after a Fee consultant acknowledged issues in a latest assembly with EU agriculture lawmakers.
Tapping into the disaster reserve?
Whereas he stated the solidarity lanes, along with the resumption of exports by way of some Black Sea ports, had helped Ukrainian exports get well, Wojciechowski defined how in international locations like Poland, the inflow of grain signifies that storage services are crammed to the restrict and producers’ costs have fallen.
“Along with the affected farmers, we’re engaged on fixing the problem with out endangering the open commerce relationship with Ukraine,” he harassed.
For the Commissioner, one potential step may very well be tapping into the agricultural disaster reserve to financially assist affected farmers.
The disaster reserve is a €450-million fund included within the Widespread Agricultural Coverage (CAP) scheme that can be utilized to finance distinctive measures to counteract market disruptions affecting manufacturing or distribution.
The fund was triggered for the primary time ever in April following Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Activating it as soon as once more subsequent yr would require the settlement of all EU agriculture ministers.
Other than the disaster reserve, the Commissioner added, the international locations in query might additionally allocate nationwide support funds to affected farmers beneath the so-called short-term disaster framework.
Whereas the EU’s subsidy guidelines normally place tight caps on the monetary support that nationwide governments can provide to farms and different companies, the disaster framework briefly loosens these restrictions within the face of the numerous financial blow taken by European economies for the reason that begin of Russia’s conflict.
Not a completed deal
Nevertheless, each choices – EU-level funding by way of the disaster reserve or nationwide support – are prone to be contentious amongst at the least some member states.
Whereas huge and financially highly effective international locations like Germany have pushed for continued exemptions to state support guidelines so as to have the ability to support their home companies via nationwide funds, others have harassed that assist measures must be European slightly than nationwide, since not each nation has the identical monetary clout.
If international locations like Germany increase their business via subsidies whereas others are usually not ready to take action in the identical method, this might distort the only market, Eire, Portugal, Poland and others have argued.
Wojciechowski stated he’s planning to debate steps to assist these affected by the grain inflow with the 27 agriculture ministers throughout their upcoming assembly in Brussels subsequent Monday (30 January).
The provisional agenda for the assembly foresees a debate in the marketplace scenario following the invasion of Ukraine, which might present a possibility to debate the problem.
In the meantime, additionally it is questionable whether or not the disaster reserve will probably be prolonged this yr.
Whereas Wojciechowski has argued in favour of prolonging the disaster fund, an EU official instructed EURACTIV that such an extension may very well be tough to justify after the agricultural sector completed the yr on a powerful word economically.
Within the face of elevated revenues in December 2022 in comparison with the earlier yr, it’s “tougher to argue there even nonetheless is a disaster”, the supply added.
[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna/Nathalie Weatherald]