Tuesday

26th Oct 2021

EU agrees compensation deal for bacteria-hit farmers

  • Sweet peppers are among vegetables whose sales have fallen (Photo: Fabrizio Federici)

EU member states have agreed on a €210 million compensation package for farmers whose sales have suffered as a result of the E. coli outbreak in northern Germany.

The deal in Brussels on Tuesday (14 June) will allow the European Commission to pay producers for cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes, and sweet peppers that have been withdrawn from the market since 26 May.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Spain, France, Poland and Slovakia voted against the package, insisting that the EU should provide more aid for farmers producing a wider range of fresh vegetables.

The decision foresees paying a maximum rate of 50 percent of the usual producer price in June, although a final figure will only be confirmed on 22 July once member states confirm the volumes that will be covered.

EU farm chief Dacian Ciolos welcomed the deal, saying it underlined the need for interventionist tools in the bloc's common agricultural policy (CAP).

"This crisis again highlights that the market alone is not sufficient for something as strategically important as agriculture. These are elements that we must bear in mind when it comes to fixing the rules and the budget for the CAP after 2013."

Alarmed by media reports of deaths and confused by erroneous announcements concerning the source of the deadly E. coil bacteria, many European consumers have opted to leave vegetables off the menu in recent weeks, leaving farmers with dwindling profits.

Spain says the slump in consumption has cost their producers €225 million a week, while Dutch officials put their figure at €70 million.

Thousands of undocumented migrant workers who flock to Spain for vegetable harvests have now been laid off by struggling farmers, leading to a rise in crime, prostitution and drug use, say charities.

German authorities initially labelled Spanish organic cucumbers as the most likely source of the virulent E. coli strain EHEC-0104, prompting a fierce barrage of criticism from Madrid.

Backtracking German officials subsequently turned their attention towards homegrown bean sprouts, eventually identifying a farm in the northern German village of Bienenbuettel as the source of the outbreak.

Ciolos said he was "optimistic that consumption will pick up very quickly" now that the source had been identified.

The deadly bacteria has so far killed at 37 people, including the first child on Tuesday, while thousands of EU citizens across 14 countries have fallen ill.

Russia's decision to ban all vegetable imports from the EU also added to tensions, with the practicalities of a political agreement at an EU-Russia summit last week to restart sales still unclear.

Erdoğan orders out US and EU ambassadors

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ordered out the ambassadors of his top Nato allies and Western investors, in what his opponents called a reckless political stunt.

EU banks play 'major role' in deforestation, report finds

Banks based in the EU have earned a reported €401m from deforestation, out of more than €30bn worth of deals with companies linked to logging. Deal-making was dominated by big banks from the Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy.

NGOs reveal 71 'revolving-door' cases at fossil-fuel giants

A new research has revealed dozens of 'revolving-door' cases at some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the EU and their lobby groups – triggering calls for stricter ethical rules, similar to those of tobacco industry.

Agenda

Energy and gender in EU focus This WEEK

In the European Parliament, the home affairs committee will start to work on new migration laws: providing the legal framework for the new migration policy in the EU.

Interview

Nato invite sees Nordic states stepping up security cooperation

Sweden and Finland are no longer embarrassed to cooperate with Nato countries, says the Nordic Council president. With Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg addressing the November meeting, it has gone from being not discussed at all - to the main topic.

Opinion

Lessons for the EU in Sahel, from Afghanistan

Former UK ambassador to Mali and Niger, who also served in Kabul, reflects on the implications of the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan for EU policy in the Sahel.

News in Brief

  1. Timmermans cancels Moscow visit ahead of COP26
  2. Report: EU to open new mission in Kabul
  3. Bulgaria and Romania run out of beds for Covid-patients
  4. Afghanistan 'on brink of collapse', Sweden warns
  5. Far-right vigilantes stopped on Polish-German border
  6. Croatian right-wingers seek euro referendum
  7. Orbán accuses EU and US of election meddling
  8. Militants free international observers in Russia-occupied Ukraine

Agenda

Energy and gender in EU focus This WEEK

In the European Parliament, the home affairs committee will start to work on new migration laws: providing the legal framework for the new migration policy in the EU.

Opinion

Lessons for the EU in Sahel, from Afghanistan

Former UK ambassador to Mali and Niger, who also served in Kabul, reflects on the implications of the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan for EU policy in the Sahel.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Erdoğan orders out US and EU ambassadors
  2. EU banks play 'major role' in deforestation, report finds
  3. NGOs reveal 71 'revolving-door' cases at fossil-fuel giants
  4. Energy and gender in EU focus This WEEK
  5. Nato invite sees Nordic states stepping up security cooperation
  6. Lessons for the EU in Sahel, from Afghanistan
  7. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  8. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us