The European Commission gave in to the pressure from EU lawmakers and the agri-food industry and announced exceptional market measures on Wednesday (22 April), after having said there was not enough money left for their deployment less than a week ago. The Commission announced that it prepared a short-term package of three delegated acts and nine implementing acts for adoption, as it needs member states to rubber-stamp the measures. The package aims to address already observed disturbances, as well as future risks to agricultural markets, and includes the private storage aid (PSA) for dairy and meat products and flexibility for some market support programmes, as well as exceptional derogation from EU competition rules that will allow operators to adopt self-organisation market measures. However, a leaked document seen by EURACTIV shows that the maximum budget for the PSA measures is overall set at €76 million. It will set the storage at between three and seven months for 330,000 tonnes of dairy products such as skimmed milked powder (90,000 tonnes), butter (140,000 tonnes) and cheese (100,000 tonnes), and for a minimum 3 to maximum 5 months for 61,000 tonnes of beef steaks (25,000 tonnes) and sheep/goat meat (36,000 tonnes).
In particular, the EU executive put forward implementing acts to authorise derogation from competition rules under Article 222 of the CMO Regulation, which allows sectors particularly hit by the crisis to put in place market withdrawal or free distribution of their products and storage by private operators for a period of maximum six months. These measures are proposed for the potato and flowers sectors, while in the milk sector only the temporary planning of production is taken into consideration. Lastly, the Commission asked to introduce flexibility in the implementation of market support programmes for wine, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and apiculture, as well as in the EU’s school scheme designed to help children follow a healthy diet by bringing fruit, vegetables and milk in schools.
The proposals were unveiled only one week after Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told MEPs the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee (COMAGRI) that the current budget for PSA and other market measures was too tight.
“I am confident that these measures will relieve markets, and show concrete results rapidly,” commented the Agriculture Commissioner. The Commission wants these measures to be adopted by the end of April.