Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

EU sets aside €125mn to stabilise food prices

  • EU farm commissioner Dan Ciolos has promised 'solidarity' with Russia-hit exporters (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The European Commission has set aside €125 million more for food exporters hurt by the Russia ban.

It said in Brussels on Monday (18 August) the money will be available until the end of November for producers of tomatoes, carrots, white cabbage, peppers, cauliflowers, cucumbers, and gherkins, mushrooms, apples, pear, red fruits, table grapes, and kiwis.

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It noted in a statement that: “The markets for these products are in full season, with no storage option for most of them and no immediate alternative market available”.

A spokesman, Roger Waite, added that the move is designed to stop prices from falling to “crisis levels”.

The move comes after the commission earlier this month set aside up to €30 million for peaches and nectarines.

Member states’ agriculture experts will meet again in Brussels on Friday to see whether other sectors need assistance from a €420 million EU fund being used to cover the costs. Agriculture ministers will also meet on 5 September to assess the state of the markets.

Under the scheme, producers can divert up to 5 percent of output to be used as fertiliser or to be given away to schools and hospitals in return for EU compensation.

Russia imposed the ban on 6 August in retaliation for EU sanctions on its banks and energy firms over the Ukraine conflict.

Individual Russian consumers are allowed to bring back EU-made food, however. Food made in Belarus or Kazahstan using EU-supplied ingredients can also be exported to Russia, its deputy prime minister said on Monday.

News of the commission food aid came out the same day as statistics showing that EU exports to Russia were on a downward trend anyway, with sales down 12 percent between January and May compared to last year.

The sanctions war is likely to escalate if the conflict also gets worse.

The Ukrainian military on Monday said “many people have been killed, including women and children” when pro-Russia rebels hit a convoy of refugees in east Ukraine with rockets and mortars. But the pro-Russia rebels said Ukrainian forces bombed the civilians.

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Russia has said its ban on EU food imports will cost it “hundreds of billions of rubles”, while taking several items off the blacklist.

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