Sunday

18th Nov 2018

EU says milk protest 'difficult to understand'

  • Protesting farmers had sprayed milk powder on the Council building (Photo: European Milk Board)

The European Commissioner for agriculture Phil Hogan said on Monday (23 January) he had difficulty understanding why dairy farmers were protesting in Brussels, given the recovery of milk prices in the last six months.

Hogan spoke at a press conference following the first EU Council ministerial of the year, with agriculture ministers from the EU's national governments.

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

Protesting farmers had sprayed milk powder on the council building earlier on Monday, and called for a "permanent crisis instrument".

But Hogan noted that the price of milk has gone up by 25 percent since August 2016, “at least in part due to the commission's actions”.

“It's difficult to understand the basis for which protests have been organised outside the council today,” said Hogan.

The market situation of dairy farmers has become “a regular feature” on the agenda of the agriculture ministerial in the past 18 months, he noted. It was also discussed on Monday.

Because the EU's milk quota scheme ended in April 2015, and dairy production shot up, the price of milk has seen a drop, although it has more recently recovered.

Although the agriculture budget is fixed for six years, the European Commission still found aid packages last year. In 2015, it unveiled a €500 million aid package.

The Irish commissioner said that he “acknowledged the fragility of the market”, and that he was not being “complacent”, but that the situation has improved.

“The average price across the European Union is now higher or as high in most member states as in January 2015,” he said.

The average EU price for a litre of milk was 32 cents in November 2016, the most recent data available. During the summer of 2016 it had dropped to just under 26 cents.

There are differences between countries, with member states that became a member since 2004 at the lower end of the price spectrum, however.

Avian flu

Farm ministers and Hogan also discussed the effects of an outbreak of avian flu on poultry farmers, at the request of Dutch agriculture minister Martijn van Dam.

In November 2016, his government introduced a mandatory confinement for all poultry.

That includes chickens whose eggs are sold as free range. Farmers are allowed to continue giving those eggs the label free range for 12 weeks of confinement, but after that, they have to be sold as barn eggs, at a lower price.

“It would be a shame if so many poultry farmers should incur such damages, especially those who are frontrunners, who have invested in free range and animal welfare,” Van Dam told EUobserver.

He called the EU rules "rigid" - and indeed the relevant legislation says marketing eggs as free range from poultry that is under health restrictions is allowed "but under no circumstances for more than 12 weeks".

However, Hogan gave little prospect for an exception.

“There is no easy solution to this matter,” he said, noting that the commission has to strike a balance between helping the farmers and helping the consumers.

“At the end of the day we also have to protect the consumers who are paying a premium price for these products,” said Hogan, who noted the issue required “further reflection” and that the commission would be working on the issue “over the next couple of weeks”.

When asked whether that work will be done by the 1 February deadline, Hogan referred to his colleague Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU commissioner in charge of health.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us