Freshfel Europe urges MEPs to remember the lingering effect of the Russian embargo on the fresh fruit and vegetable sector
Freshfel Europe circulated an open communication addressed to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of the Agriculture and International Trade Committees, urging them not to forget the strong and permanent impact of the now 7-year Russian embargo on the fresh fruits and vegetables sector. In the letter, MEPs were urged to continue supporting fruit and vegetable operators in their constant efforts to diversify their exports to other markets and to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the EU market in order to compensate for the loss of the Russian market, the former main outlet for EU fresh produce. fruit and vegetable exports.
The 2014 Russian embargo deeply affected European producers and exporters of fruit and vegetables. Russian sanctions represent around 7.5 billion euros for all affected countries, of which 5 billion have affected EU agriculture, of which 2.5 billion have affected the fruit and vegetable sector. “To counter the storm, the European Commission reacted quickly with exceptional market measures to support the sector, which lasted until the 2017/2018 season,” said Philippe Binard, Managing Director of Freshfel Europe.
“However, the total amount of compensation for 2014-2018 was 510 million euros covering 1.7 million tonnes in a total lost market of 10 million tonnes for almost 8 billion euros. In addition, the repositioning of fruits, such as apples and pears, is not an easy task given the long-term investment in orchards and the different requirements in the different markets ”, underlined Mr. Binard. .
The sector’s efforts to promote new markets in order to diversify exports have also proven difficult in light of multiple barriers to trade, including sanitary and phytosanitary issues. Regarding internal consumption, unfortunately the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables by European citizens remains low at 363 g per capita per day, below the 400 g recommended by the WHO and despite the sector’s continuous efforts to promote consumption.
With the resumption of EU-Russia relations becoming increasingly uncertain, “the sector urges the European Parliament to support the fruit and vegetable sector in promoting EU consumption in the context of the farm-to-farm strategy. ‘plate, the cancer plan and the EU. Strategy on the rights of the child, all of which underline the importance of a healthy plant-based diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables ”, noted Natalia Santos, Director of Trade and Market Access at Freshfel Europe.
In addition, the sector needs Parliament to make the ratification of new free trade agreements conditional on the existence of a strong chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary issues with sufficient binding guarantees from the partner country to guarantee the access of the country. ‘EU to these markets in the same way. this access is granted to the EU market for their exports.
“We urge MEPs to prioritize the ratification of the modernized EU-Mexico trade agreement, in which EU negotiators have successfully incorporated crucial SPS provisions,” added Ms Santos.