Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister: interests and competitiveness of the EU farmers must be more protected in trade with third countries
On Monday, April 26, at a videoconference of the informal Council of EU Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries (CMAF) the Ministers of the EU Member States discussed the EU international trade and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.
CMAF Ministers discussed an impact on the EU agriculture of the EU trade agreements with third countries as well as results of a study, carried out by the European Commission (COM) on the further impact of trade agreements on the EU agriculture. The study provides an insight into the impact of the EU free trade agreements with third countries on the offer and demand and agricultural price development on the EU markets of agricultural produce.
Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister: “International trade conditions must be equal for all the players – EU producers have to meet higher food quality standards un this creates unequal competition conditions. These issues must be adequately addressed in future free trade agreements. The free trade agreements must be balanced, taking care of long-term interests of the EU farmers in the sector of agriculture. We are concerned that reforms envisaged by the EU Green Deal will create additional climate, environmental and animal welfare requirements for the EU farmers and food producers, straining competition in international trade and placing EU producers in unequal competition conditions as compared with third country producers. Therefore, we appreciate the COM intention to apply requirements of the EU environmental standards to imported food. Further, the impact of Green Deal requirements on the competitiveness of EU goods on third country export markets will also have to be evaluated.”
Latvia is also suggesting not only to delight in a positive prognosis, regarding the growth of exports of the EU agricultural produce in some sectors, but in due time to pay attention to another prognosis – reduction in the EU production levels and producer income in sensitive sectors, particularly in beef and poultry meat sector. Therefore, Latvia calls COM to take this fact into consideration in further negotiations on agreements with third countries.
In the discussions on CAP future, Latvia points out that an agreement on acceptable EU Green Deal conditions to be met by farmers and food producers, is a priority issue. A lot of obligatory climate and environmental requirements will be imposed on farmers besides, additionally a considerable part of direct payments is intended to channel to eco-schemes. A share of direct payments received by Latvian farmers is by 20% lower than the EU average. If 20% or even more will be deducted from our envelope of direct payments and channeled to eco-schemes, there is risk that Latvia will not be able to provide even the current level of support for basic income of farmers. Although, due to a low level of direct payments it was not acceptable for Latvia, in October 2020, the EU Ministers for Agriculture agreed on a uniform Council position that 20% of direct payments must be channeled to eco-schemes. Still, it is not the final decision as an agreement must be reached on conditions of CAP regulations with the European Parliament. Latvia considers that the Council must not give in to the European Parliament to increase even more the share of direct payments to be channeled to measures of eco-schemes.
Information prepared by: Dagnija Muceniece,
Head of the Press and Public Relations Division
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