The Commissioner of Agriculture, Phil Hogan, said today that the European Commission (EC) will decide soon if it opens "or not" a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for tariffs imposed in the United States on black olive table Spanish.
The process, demanded by Spain and the Spanish producers affected by the decision, which raises the tariff by up to 34.75%, is now in the hands of the Directorate General of Commerce of the Community Executive, Hogan said at the end of the Council of European Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries held today in Brussels.
"We are finalizing our position, the general direction of Commerce is the head of the ranks in relation to whether we open a complaint to the WTO or not, I hope this decision comes soon," he said.
The Spanish minister, Luis Planas, announced on his arrival at the meeting that he would ask for more "help and support" from the producers.
Hogan said that next week, on a trip he plans to make Córdoba to participate in a data event in the agriculture sector, he will meet with the minister to "reflect on other possible measures."
Both the EU and Spain have warned on several occasions of the threat that this decision of Washington may pose with respect to all European aid, given that it attacks aid received by olive producers from the direct payments of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), not linked to production.
These are part of the so-called "green box" in the WTO and, according to its definition, have no impact on international trade.
In addition, Planas explained that he has proposed to the EC that the table olive be part of the products that receive subsidies coupled to production, in the framework of the debates on the reform of the CAP, which will come into force as of 2020.
Hogan recalled that the EC has announced a budget of 2.5 million euros for promotional programs for this product in 2019.
"We are ready to help farmers both in the WTO and with specific emergency measures, as requested by the Spanish Government," said the commissioner.
The European ministers also discussed the market situation of other products, such as sugar, given that several countries, including Spain, demand measures for the complications of the sector after the first year without quotas.
"We are going to defend that the private storage is authorized to try to recover the prices", affirmed Planas when arriving at the meeting.
However, this request has not been seconded by the commissioner, although it seeks "alternatives".
"I am against private storage, it costs a lot and it does not give the desired result, the Member States start to conclude in the same way, but we have to think about the alternatives and understand how the situation presents itself," Hogan said. respect.
The Irish Commissioner estimates that at present "conditions are not given" to resort to private storage given that "prices have recovered", although he announced a high-level meeting "as soon as possible" to "deepen the situation and see proposals possible "that give" good security to markets and farmers ".
"Prices have not stopped rising for three weeks, we have confidence, we see that the market is adapting, the figures we receive show that prices are rising," he added.
In terms of fishing, the Ministers reached an agreement on the Total Allowable Catch of deep-sea fish for 2019-2020, negotiations in which the reduction foreseen for bream and alphonso was reduced.
In addition, in the context of the "Brexit" negotiations, Planas defended the interests of the fishing sector in the negotiations of the exit agreement of the United Kingdom from the European Union, in which the access of the Community fleet to British waters is not Guaranteed yet.
"On the part of Spain and of the Spanish delegation in the Council, there is all the firmness in defending our positions, obviously, we are going to preserve the activity of the fishing sector," he said.