Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

French PM: Commission 'not doing enough' for farmers

  • French farmers' protest in Colmar, last August (Photo: Emmanuel)

The European Commission “has done too little too late” to help struggling farmers, French prime minister Manuel Valls has said, urging “energetic diplomatic action” to end a Russian ban on European pig meat.

“The crisis is also European," Valls said on Monday (8 February), adding that the French government had taken its share of responsibility.

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Valls' remarks follow a French memorandum, sent by agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll to the commission last Thursday, in which France asked for a debate on introducing market regulation tools for the dairy and pig sectors.

France wanted “to find allies in Europe to move the lines” ahead of a meeting of farming ministers in Brussels next Monday. The meeting currently has “the market situation and the difficulties in the milk and pig sectors” on the agenda, but only in the form of a briefing.

The French diplomatic offensive comes while French farmers are carrying out street protests.

The price French dairy farmers receive for milk went up slightly at the end of last summer to around 32 eurocents per litre, but has since dropped again to 30 eurocent per litre.

The milk price had been dropping steadily for the past two years, since the end of the European milk quota was in sight. It was abolished after three decades on 1 April 2015.

Exports to Russia meanwhile have dropped due to the Russian embargo on pig meat. Valls said he would discuss the ban with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, on Saturday.

The European Commission is not likely to agree with Valls' assessment that it has not done enough to alleviate the problems of European farmers.

In September, it adopted a €500 million package, which included €420 million in national envelopes. After Germany (€69.2 million), France received the largest share, €62.9 million.

The commission already said last year that it was against reintroducing market regulation tools.

Why are European farmers unhappy?

EU farm ministers will hold a special meeting to discuss the pressures facing farmers across the bloc. But many factors are beyond their control.

Agriculture ministers accept Commission aid plan

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.

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