Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Russia to pick which EU states can export food

  • Russian consumers are paying 'a high price' for EU-type deliciacies (Photo: swerz)

The European Commission has agreed to let Russia choose which EU states can be exempt from its food ban.

The deal was struck in Berlin last week between Ladislav Miko, a top EU health and safety official, and Sergey Dankvert, his Russian counterpart.

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

  • EU farmers have lost hundreds of millions of euros (Photo: Andrew Stawarz)

According to a letter from Miko to Dankvert dated 16 January, and seen by EUobserver, the mechanism for lifting the Russian ban involves the EU issuing health certificates and Russia deciding which member states meet them following inspections.

“In order to come back to the situation before the ban, our understanding is that trade could resume based on EU-wide veterinary certificates and inspection by importing country [Russia]”, it says.

It lists items covered by the deal as: “delicatessen, selected dairy and meat products, traditional products, niche products, [and] PGI/PDO etc.”.

PGI/PDO refers to items with an EU “protected designation of origin”, such as “Piemontese salami” or “Tenerife honey”.

The letter says “we understand that there is a high price in the Russian market” for equivalent goods.

It adds that “fat, lard, offal, meat, meals, and similar products” are also covered.

With EU and US diplomats in the past 48 hours fretting over Russia’s escalation of its war on Ukraine, Miko described his meeting with Dankvert as “fruitful”.

He said he hopes trade in “ware potatoes” will soon follow.

He also “reiterated the EU commitment for co-operation” with Russia on food fraud and on African swine fever.

EU farmers and exporters lost hundreds of millions of euros after Russia imposed the food ban last August in retaliation against EU economic sanctions.

Pick and choose

But some capitals are concerned Moscow will exploit the new arrangements to reward Russia-friendly EU states and to punish its adversaries.

"The letter says Russia is free to make its own arrangements with individual member states. This gives them a green light to pick and choose which countries they'll work with", an EU diplomat said.

“It's bad news. We have decided ourselves to give up on EU solidarity”, the contact added.

“The Russia sanctions were imposed on all member states, so they should be lifted in the same way".

Enrico Brivio, a commission spokesman, defended the Berlin arrangements, however.

“That’s for sure not the sense of this agreement. The idea was to guarantee a common framework that's applied in a fair way to all member states. This is clearly what it’s about”, he told EUobserver on Wednesday (21 January).

“Our expectation is that it should be applied in a fair way to all member states”.

Asked how come Russia has changed the reason for the ban from political to health and safety grounds, he replied: “You should ask the Russians”.

Asked if Russia's Dankvert requested the EU lifts some of its sanctions in return, Brivio said: “No quid pro quo was mentioned on other issues”.

Russia relaxes EU food ban, counts costs

Russia has said its ban on EU food imports will cost it “hundreds of billions of rubles”, while taking several items off the blacklist.

Opinion

How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.

Opinion

Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us