“Looking to the future: Europe, Green Deal, Farm to Fork , Brexit, International Trade and Promotion of EU fruit and vegetables.”

Reflections on the current situation of the sector in the context of the current pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, FruitvegetablesEUROPE has conveyed the sector’s concern regarding the COVID-19 crisis and its negative impact on the European fruit and vegetable sector.

Like the health sector, EU fruit and vegetable producers have been and are on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. The sector has worked intensively in the fields and in the warehouses. While ensuring that factories, logistics, distribution, marketing and outlets across the EU work well to ensure that supply is maintained in order to “put food on our tables.” These big efforts come at a cost additional and producers must be helped.

The EU market disruptions in the fruit and vegetables sector have been real, various sectors have suffered and are suffering the consequences of COVID-19. Especially assuming the additional costs of transport, the costs of protective equipment and sanitary stockings, the decrease in consumption of certain products, the difficulty of having seasonal workers, etc.

After many demands, the European Commission announced a package of measures that sought to increase the flexibility of sectoral programs for fruit and vegetables. However, FruitvegetablesEUROPE considers that the measures are totally insufficient for the EU fruit and vegetable sector. For this reason, from FruitvegetablesEUROPE we continue to require the European Commission to include general production expenses (included in section 1 of Annex 2 of Delegated Regulation 2017/891) and exceptional expenses resulting from Covid-19.

FruitVegetablesEUROPE believes that the response to this global health, social and economic crisis must be European. The EU must come up with really effective measures that reassure markets, help producers and give confidence to EU consumers alike. In addition, the measures must be maintained as long as the social and economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has not ended.

FruitVegetablesEUROPE priorities for the future

The strategy of “Farm to Table ” 

Brexit: future trade relationship between the EU and the UK

Promotion of fruit and vegetables in the EU

International trade: priority markets for FruitVegetablesEUROPE

1. The Farm to Fork Strategy”: FruitVegetablesEUROPE’s position

 

It is a fact that we need to find a way to feed a much larger world population in 2050 without harming our planet, and the EU has a crucial role to play in this matter.

The Commissioner Kyriakides said that the strategy of the ” farm to table ” should reflect the ambition of the Green Pact . However, in our opinion:

  • The incentives proposed in the Green Deal and farm-to-fork strategies are not sufficient and adequate for EU farmers to achieve an ecological transition.
  • Reduction of pesticide use must be based on scientific criteria. The European Commission must present understandable alternatives to the use of current pesticides.
  • Coordinated action is needed to contribute to a sustainable food system that has a neutral environmental impact.
  • It is necessary to act urgently to reduce the food waste and food losses at EU level.
  • Conventional agriculture in the EU meets the world’s highest quality and food safety standards. Therefore, not only organic farming should be considered.
  • There is a need to increase the number of actions relating to the information and promotion of mandatory EU labeling of origin, in particular for fruit and vegetables, in the EU.
  • We need concise and realistic proposals that are backed by strong budget support.

 

FruitVegetablesEurope believes that no one should be left behind; the environmental transition cannot leave the burden on European farmers. European farmers are struggling to keep the sector alive, which is hit hard by intense international competition.

This is why FruitVegetablesEUROPE encourages the European Commission to increase the coherence of EU policies affecting the EU agricultural sector. The coherence of EU policies and their alignment with the new Green Deal and the farm-to-fork strategy must be a priority.

2. Brexit : future trade relationship between the EU and the UK

Negotiations for a future Trade Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom should be a priority for future trade policy.

FruitVegetablesEUROPE believes that the application of tariffs on EU fruit and vegetables would have a catastrophic impact on the EU export sector, as the UK is the third largest export destination for the EU, after Germany and France. In addition, EU exporters will have to compete with third countries that are exempt from this tariff rate (competitors from the Mediterranean and the southern hemisphere already have preferential agreements signed at a tariff rate of 0%) and do not comply with EU regulations for high quality, social, environmental and phytosanitary.

EU producers and exporters have spent years opening up and consolidating the UK premium market for high-quality products where taste, freshness and safety are the main requirements. Unfortunately, there is no premium alternative market for EU production and the Russian market remains closed. In this regard, FruitVegetablesEUROPE reiterates that the future trade relationship between the EU and the UK is crucial for the EU fruit and vegetable sector.

For example, announced tariffs of 16 per cent for mandarins, 10 per cent for oranges and 6 per cent for lemons would make EU exports to the UK unviable compared to other origins with a tariff of 0 per cent. hundred. The example of the EU citrus sector can be extrapolated to the entire EU fruit and vegetable sector.

It is therefore absolutely crucial for the EU fruit and vegetable sector that all fruit and vegetable exports to the UK are duty-free, as well as the need for rapid telematic procedures that allow the processing of all documentation required in real time.

FruitVegetablesEUROPE calls on the EU not to sacrifice the EU agricultural sector in negotiations with the UK. It is imperative and urgent that the EU take into consideration equally all the productive sectors of the European Union: agriculture, industry and services.

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3. International trade: priority markets for FruitVegetablesEUROPE

 FruitVegetablesEUROPE believes that the EU should prioritize its engagement with the United States while enjoying the most integrated economic relationship in the world. Furthermore, China is now the EU’s second largest trading partner behind the United States and the EU is China’s largest trading partner. Therefore, improving the access of EU fruit and vegetables to the Chinese market should also be a priority for the EU.

Finally, Russia should not be forgotten. Russia’s import ban has deprived European fruit and vegetable producers of an important export market and the effects of the ban undoubtedly continue to have serious consequences for the EU fruit and vegetable sector.

 – 4. Promotion of EU fruit and vegetables 

 FruitVegetablesEUROPE and its members work tirelessly to promote EU fruit and vegetables. For this reason , in 2018, FruitVegetablesEUROPE created and launched the European strategy ” CuTE – Cultivating the Flavor of Europe ” to increase the competitiveness of the sector through information and promotion campaigns for EU fruit and vegetables. These programs are focused on the internal market of the EU, our main market, and their objective is to communicate about the production methods, the characteristics of our products and to make European consumers aware of the benefits and advantages of consuming EU fruit and vegetables. 

Currently, FruitVegetablesEurope is running two EU promotion programmes: CuTE – Cultivating the Taste of Europe (framework programme) and CuTE -Solar (on solar greenhouses). From January 2021 two new promotion programmes will joint the CuTE Strategy: CuTE-Healthy (healthy diet) and CuTE-4You (crises COVID-19).

Juan Marin

FruitVegetablesEUROPE President