25 Feb 2016
COMMENTS BY PHIL HOGAN IN PARIS – 25 FEBRUARYBrussels Daily
Today I had the opportunity to thoroughly discuss with Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll of the grave situation facing agricultural markets in the European Union and in particular its impact in France.
We are aware of the serious difficulties faced by French and European producers in a number of areas and we are agreed on the need to adopt all appropriate measures to remedy the current situation, which is characterized by an increased imbalance between supply and demand and the duration of this imbalance.
In preparation of the Agriculture Council of Ministers of March 14, we examined several proposals made by France, which the European Commission is currently evaluating. The Commission is committed to finding solutions that reflect the difficulty of the situation, and will meet formally at the Council.
The French government and the European Commission have a common will to ensure that European farmers receive the widest possible support. The Council of March will be the occasion to conduct a necessary debate across the European Union in which all available options can be examined in detail in order to make appropriate and effective decisions.
We also discussed future bilateral trade agreements, such as the TTIP and Mercosur, which, as we recognize, are of crucial importance for European agriculture and should remain ambitious and balanced for both parties. In particular, we agreed that any final outcome for TTIP must take account of our key offensive interests, such as better protection of geographical indications and a reduction of non-tariff barriers.
We also agreed that, although the sensitivities on both sides must be respected, the EU will ensure that the sensitive sectors for European agriculture are protected.
We recognize the difficulties due to the Russian embargo still in force on pigmeat and we reaffirmed our willingness to discuss with Russia a quick resumption of European exports. I also reiterated the commitment of the Commission to urgently find a solution to the long list of prohibitions on sanitary and phytosanitary measures in third countries.
I will stay in contact with Minister Le Foll during the period preceding the Council of March and we will meet again at the Salon de l’Agriculture.