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Tuesday, 09 October 2012

Ministers split on tools to tackle farming crises

The member states emerged divided over the future scope of emergency tools for reacting to agricultural market crises at the Agriculture Council, on 16 July, with some delegations saying they should cover all farm products, while more liberal-minded states strongly opposed such a move. In a public debate on the European Commission’s proposals for tools to react to farm crises, such as price slumps and outbreaks of animal disease, the ministers were widely in favour of ensuring that the EU executive has measures to respond quickly and effectively.
Member states put their weight behind the Commission’s plans to modernise the current toolkit, including a fast-track procedure for responding to “specific problems”. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos was quick to point to the EU’s fruit and vegetable sector, which was hit by a price slump in June and July last year after the E.coli crisis, that led to over 50 deaths and caused a drop in consumer confidence.
However, the member states were less united on moves to extend the scope of the toolkit to cover all agricultural sectors. Spain, France, Portugal and Cyprus were among the group of at least ten countries demanding an extension of the measures to cover more areas. But more liberal-minded member states, including Sweden, the UK, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, said that use of the emergency measures should be subject to strict limits. For his part, Commissioner Ciolos warned that the future budgetary resources would not be “infinite,” ruling out an extension of measures to sectors that have never before benefitted from the support, such as potatoes, horse meat and cork.

Source: Europolitics