20th Mar 2018

EU farm chief questions own milk scheme

  • Hogan (l): "I have engaged a lot of political capital now on behalf of the French and the Belgians to try and come up with something that they wanted for a long time" (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The European Commission has said it will let Europe's dairy sector manage its output to rebalance an oversupplied market, less than a year after the EU's milk quotas ended.

The new scheme had strong French backing, but shortly after farm ministers met in Brussels on Monday (14 March) EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan questioned the effectiveness of the move.

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.

  • EU milk farmers staged angry protests in European cities last year (Photo: Russ Allison Loar)

Ministers had met to discuss the dire situation in the pig meat and dairy sectors in Europe and agreed to a range of measures proposed by Hogan.

Among other provisions, Hogan said he would extend by one year measures aimed at cushioning the effects of a Russian import ban on EU fruit and vegetables.

Russia imposed the embargo in retaliation at EU sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

The commission relief package is to expire on 30 June.

But Hogan told press on Monday: “I don't think [Russian leader] Mr Putin is in any particular good humour at this stage in order to lift those particular problems that has brought these particular measures around.”

Russia aside, the big decision on Monday was a return to output management of dairy products, albeit under a voluntary system.

The EU on 1 April 2015 ended three decades of an old milk quota scheme. But market and political factors created a glut on the market, forcing down prices.

The developments left European farmers torn on the horns of a dilemma: increase production to protect income while harming the market, or lose money to prevent even worse oversupply.

The EU commission will now let dairy trade organisations create voluntary agreements to limit production.

France had wanted a new market regulation instrument. French agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll told press after Monday’s meeting that most of his demands had been met.

But it is difficult to see how a voluntary scheme will solve the problem.

Imagine EU country A has a scheme under which its farmers limit milk production. How do you stop producers in country B from flooding the market of country A with cheap milk, EUobserver asked Hogan.

“You can't,” he told this website and a handful of other journalists on Monday evening.

“Ask the French minister of agriculture. He has everything worked out,” the 55-year old Irish politician added.

“I assure you that I have engaged a lot of political capital now on behalf of the French and the Belgians to try and come up with something that they wanted for a long time.”

“It's going to be very difficult for the reasons this gentleman [the EUobserver reporter] just explained: It's voluntary,” he said,

The Dutch agriculture minister, Martijn van Dam, who chaired Monday’s meeting, appealed to the conscience of EU farmers and food companies.

“We call upon all relevant market operators in the dairy and pig meat sector … to act responsibly and contribute to restoring balance between supply and demand,” he said.

“A reduction in supply is necessary to restore the markets.”

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.

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.

Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks

Angela Merkel - who started her fourth term as Germany's chancellor earlier this week - is wasting no time on big issues like eurozone reforms. On Friday she is meeting Emmanuel Macron where the two will seek common ground.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?