Friday

19th Jan 2018

EU help for farmers is coming, but not yet

  • Dairy market in London. Farmers say they are receiving too low prices for their products (Photo: Paul Gravestock)

The current slump in the dairy and pig meat sectors requires “an EU-wide response”, the form of which will be decided at the next meeting of farming ministers in March, said agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan on Monday (15 February).

“I'm not satisfied with the current situation for farmers, and I acknowledge that the situation requires not just a member state response, but also an EU-wide response,” said Hogan at a press conference after Monday's agriculture ministerial in Brussels.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Hogan (left): 'I'm not satisfied with the current situation for farmers' (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The meeting took place while French farmers held another protest against what they say are exceedingly low prices for their products, as they have done regularly since the beginning of the year.

Hogan also confirmed he would visit French prime minister Manuel Valls and French agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll in Paris next Thursday (25 February). Valls had recently said that the European Commission “has done too little too late” to help struggling farmers.

On Monday, Le Foll told journalists that the commission “has noted the gravity of the situation”. Hogan said he already had a “very cordial and constructive meeting” with Le Foll on Monday morning, who presented a set of possible measures in a memorandum.

“This paper is a useful contribution to the discussion that we are going to have in March,” said Hogan.

“It contains a number of proposals, some of them are worthy of consideration, notably in relation to export credits, the greater use of promotion, further efforts to lift the Russian embargo on pig meat.”

All member states have been invited to hand in proposals for EU-wide measures by 25 February. The commission will then present a proposal based on those ideas at the next agriculture ministerial, or council, on 14 March.

“The commission will evaluate those ideas and reflect on what more can be done to alleviate the pressures on our European farmers,” said Hogan, adding that any new supportive measures need to adhere to three criteria.

“It has to be consistent with the legal framework of the common agriculture policy; it should be within the resource constraint of the EU budget; ... and thirdly it should commend broad support within the Council,” noted Hogan.

“I will have an open mind to listen to all options and all ideas in the context of the framework that I just alluded to,” he added.

It was not only France that was worried about the market situation, said Dutch agriculture minister Martijn van Dam, who chaired the meeting - the Netherlands currently holds the rotating six-month EU presidency.

“We start this presidency during difficult times for Europe but also for the agricultural sector, in particular the pig meat and dairy sectors,” said Van Dam.

“Several members expressed their concerns and made clear the market situation in dairy and pig meat sectors are worrying and need to improve urgently,” the Dutch politician added.

Spain, Poland, and Cyprus also raised the issue.

At the March meeting, Hogan and the ministers will also assess the effect of a €500 million support package that the commission offered last September. The bulk of that package was funded through a mechanism that is no longer available, so it is unlikely that a similar financial aid package will be found.

Asked what he would say to protesting farmers who now have to wait a month before they know what measures will be taken at the EU level, Hogan said that 14 March “is not that long to wait, albeit the French farmers are under great difficulties, and I acknowledge that”.

“But it has to have the broad support of the Council for any measures of an EU-wide nature that need to be implemented.

“I think some time might be needed to bring a consensus in the Council to know what suite of measures could be implemented to reflect the very difficult market situations we have in the dairy and pig meat [sectors] in particular.”

EU still not delivering on milk-for-migrants

The European Commission floated the idea in September of buying dairy products from struggling European farmers to distribute to refugees, but the scheme is not yet up and running.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  2. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  3. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed
  4. Bad loans in EU decrease to 2014 levels
  5. UK demand for EIB loans dropped in 2017
  6. EIB president: Juncker fund has worked
  7. Moscovici calls for more transparency on tax havens list
  8. Commission proposes VAT overhaul

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia
  2. Taking full benefit of supercomputers in Europe
  3. Spitzenkandidat system 'difficult to get rid of', hopes lead MEP
  4. Rights NGOs face fresh threats across the EU, agency says
  5. EIB 'more sensitive' to fraud after Dieselgate, chief insists
  6. EU 'hypocrisy' condemns people to Libya, says NGO
  7. Next year's EU election at risk of Russian meddling
  8. Hungary to tax NGOs that 'help' migration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap