Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Agriculture ministers accept Commission aid plan

  • The Commission's aid package follows protests by farmers (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Most of the EU's agriculture ministers were cautiously optimistic about the EU commission's €500 million aid package for Europe's struggling farmers, after receiving additional details on the plan at a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday (15 September).

“Most participants in the meeting generally welcomed the package of measures announced by the Commission as an initial response to this situation, whilst suggesting possible improvements”, said Luxembourgish agriculture minister Fernard Etgen at a press conference.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The meeting followed the Commission's announcement of an aid package last Monday (7 September) at an emergency meeting of farming ministers. Several of them criticized the commission for the lack of clarity, including how the money will be distributed.

“The problem was that there was too little cash on the table and that the measures were very unclear”, Flemish agriculture minister for agriculture Joke Schauvliege told reporters before the meeting.

“That's why the European Commission had to redo its homework and come back today with answers and hopefully more cash.”

The commission did not bring more cash, but did specify how the €500 million would be spent. The bulk of it, €420 million, will be handed out to the EU's 28 member states.

The distribution key was released by the commission on Tuesday.

The three largest member states receive the most money: €69.2 million for Germany; €62.9 million for France; and €36.1 million for the United Kingdom.

The Netherlands (€29.9 million), received a proportionally high percentage when compared to its population, as well as the Baltic states Lithuania (€12.6 million), Latvia (€8.5 million), and Estonia (€7.6 million).

The distribution key was calculated as follows, Phil Hogan told ministers, according to a prepared version of his speech:

“Reflecting the significant drop in dairy prices over the past year, which has affected all EU producers, the vast majority of the total amount - 80 per cent - is allocated on the basis of MS [member states'] milk quotas in the last quota year”, said Hogan.

The remaining 20 percent was calculated by looking at EU countries “which have been particularly hit by the fall in pigmeat prices, the impact of the Russian ban, very low milk prices and this summer's drought”.

At the press conference, Hogan noted that “there were no issues blocked today” and that when handing out money it is always difficult to keep everyone happy.

“I believe we got the balance okay. Nevertheless, there will always be some member states that would feel they should get more,” said Hogan.

The Irish commissioner noted that the emergency package is an “exceptional” measure, indicating that it is unlikely to be repeated next year.

Much of the package was funded by the so-called super levy - fines handed out to countries that exceeded their milk quota - a system which has been abolished this year. The last super levy was higher than expected.

Other measures included allowing EU countries to give a higher advance to their farmers than before – 70 percent instead of 50 percent of EU subsidies for 2016 will be allowed to be distributed in mid-October. Hogan adapted his original proposal by doing away with the requirement for anti-fraud measures, to speed up the possibility of paying out subsidies.

“In response to the call from a number of member states for further flexibility, I will now propose that Member States may pay 70 per cent of advances after the administrative controls have been completed and without the need to complete the on-the-spot checks”, Hogan told ministers.

The commission also announced it would buy around €30 million of milk products from European farmers, and distribute them to refugees.

Another measure would be to begin and enhance storage programmes whereby private storage of skimmed milk powder, cheese, and pig meat would receive funding. The idea is that once prices have increased, the stored products can be sold again.

It said it would begin the administrative process this week to implement the plan.

EU farming crisis to stay 'for some time'

Agriculture commissioner due to present package of relief measures next week but said he's "constrained" by financial resources and by EU legislation.

Investigation

Dutch bank faces questions on Romania land-grab

Dutch banking giant Rabobank is facing questions over investments in Romania, amid concerns that its subsidiaries are "land grabbing" in some of the EU's poorest and most corrupt regions.

News in Brief

  1. House prices up by 15 percent in EU since 2010
  2. China 'most trade-restrictive partner' for the EU
  3. EU court rules against German highway toll for non-residents
  4. French most sceptical on safety of vaccines
  5. Facebook 'currency' met with scepticism in Europe
  6. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  7. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  8. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. What's going on in Moldova - and what next?
  2. EU officials prepare for US extravaganza on Palestine
  3. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  4. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  5. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  6. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  7. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  8. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us