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EU agri and fish ministers on COVID-19 impact on agriculture and fisheries

Met dank overgenomen van Kroatisch voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2020 (Kroatisch voorzitterschap), gepubliceerd op woensdag 13 mei 2020.

The Croatian Presidency organized a second videoconference of EU ministers responsible for agriculture and fisheries with the participation of EU Commissioners Janusz Wojciechowski and Virginijus Sinkevičius, to discuss measures already in force, as well as possible future actions on both national and European level in order to counteract the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture and fisheries sector.

Croatian Minister of Agriculture Marija Vučković chaired this video conference with the aim of information sharing between the Member States and EU institutions.

“Since our last videoconference in March many steps were taken and our cooperation both on bilateral and EU level was vivid. Results are here. Food production and food supply is secured. EU agriculture and fisheries sectors have demonstrated their resilience and sufficient and good quality food remains available for European consumers at affordable prices. In these challenging times this was our first priority. In the same time, we were working on helping farmers and fishermen to overcome all the obstacles of the covid crisis. For aquaculture and fisheries, a full package of measures is already in force and from what we have heard today, is well accepted across member states. At the same time, many pointed out that further measures will be needed, especially if the current situation remains."

Marija Vučković, Minister of Agriculture

In relation to fisheries, many Member States welcomed and appreciated quick adoption of the legislation allowing for additional support of the fisheries sector which has been hit by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Overall fishing activity by EU fishing fleet is significantly reduced, particularly for smaller vessels, and the market situation remains challenging. Some Member States called for additional measures and additional flexibilities, especially for obligations regarding ICCAT fishing season and control obligations.

Ministers called upon the Commission to continue to monitor the situation for both the fishing fleet and aquaculture and within any additional available funding will consider if further support measures are needed.

As regards the agricultural production, multiple rounds of measures were proposed, most of them already in force. However, we heard today clear messages and calls to the Commission to implement additional measures, both in terms of further relaxing the current CAP rules, for example in relation to the on-the-spot checks or the increase of the voluntary coupled support, but also those that would require further financial resources. Activation of the private storage and other market measures for sectors such as poultry, pig meat and veal, potatoes to name just a few, was also requested.

In addition, some sectors that already received support will need additional measures, according to the ministers’ interventions. This relates primarily to the dairy and wine sector.

The majority of the ministers reflected on the fact that without additional financial resources it will be almost impossible to adequately support the sectors. Aware of the realistic budgetary constraints, Ministers stressed that the Commission should explore all available options, first of all to look at the existing assigned revenues.

Crisis reserve was mentioned by a few, some believe that the time has come to activate it, while others hold that all other options should be exhausted before going down that road.

"The rural development regulation amendment was also welcomed. However many pointed out that they will not be able to use the opportunities provided, as there are no more funds available under the second pillar. Even those Member States are prepared to support the proposal and this is exactly the show of solidarity that we were hoping to see in these hard times. In the year that we celebrate the 60-years' anniversary of the CAP, we remain committed to demonstrate its effectiveness and to defend the integrity of the single market."

Marija Vučković, Minister of Agriculture

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