Tuesday

16th Oct 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.

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

  • 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.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  2. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  3. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  4. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges
  5. How Juncker's 'do less' group concluded EU should not do less
  6. Cyprus and Russia: Association of Cyprus Banks responds
  7. Orthodox church split just tip of Putin's crumbling 'soft power' in Ukraine
  8. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us