Spain asked the European Commission (EC) on Wednesday to adopt “urgent measures” to support the agricultural and fisheries sectors due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus, and to avoid problems in international trade in agri-food products.
The European heads of Agriculture and Fisheries held a videoconference on Wednesday in which they reviewed the impact of the pandemic on producers and examined possible aid.
The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, urged the European Union (EU) to mobilize “financial and legal resources” to implement the exceptional measures provided for in the Regulations of the Common Organization of Agricultural Markets, according to a press release from the Ministry, released at the end of the meeting.
Planas explained that although the agricultural and fishing sectors have remained active since the declaration of the state of alert in Spain, “problems are being detected” due to the drop in sales caused by the closure of restaurants and the cancellation of events.
In particular, Spain is currently concerned about the situation of cut flowers, strawberries and red berries and lamb meat, according to the statement.
The minister indicated that, due to the current situation, the beneficiaries of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will not be able to meet the commitments, demands or anticipated deadlines, which could lead to a loss of community funds.
For this reason, he stressed “the desirability that the funds not executed could be recovered for their implementation in subsequent years, when the normal situation recovers.”
Planas also called for an “urgent and robust” response from the EU to avoid deterioration in the structure of the fisheries sector.
According to the minister, the Commission’s contingency measures, which foresee an increase in aid “de minimis” (state aid) in this area, “are not sufficient to face the current challenges.”
The solution to this crisis “does not lie solely in the activation of state aid,” said Planas, who demanded a “clear” commitment from the EU.
Among the measures that Spain is asking for in this area is the temporary modification of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to allow it to help “immediately and during the time of crisis” the fishing and aquaculture sector.
On the other hand, Planas warned of the impact of the closure of the borders to prevent the spread of the virus, a situation that hinders the arrival in Spain of seasonal workers to collect products, which are in full campaign.
The minister appreciated the Brussels guidelines for border management but moved his concern about the maintenance of international trade, and asked the EC to ensure trade in agri-food products with third countries.