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European Commission Daily News 23rd July

Publication of the latest agri-food trade figures: EU agri-food trade increased in January – April 2021, compared to last year

During the period from January to April 2021, EU agri-food trade (exports plus imports) reached a value of €103.4 billion; i.e. 1.1% less than in January-April 2020. While EU exports increased by 1.7% compared to the same period in 2020, reaching €63 billion, EU imports attained €40.3 billion, still 5.1% less than in the first four months of 2020. The monthly value for EU exports in April 2021 were 7.7% lower than March 2021, but also 9.8% higher than April 2020. EU imports in value also were 2.5% lower in April 2021 compared to March 2021, but 3.7% higher than the value observed in April 2020.  On a year over year basis, for the period January-April 2021, EU agri-food export values fell most with respect to those towards the United Kingdom (minus €806 million, -6%), when compared with the same period in 2020. The highest increases in the EU export values were recorded with respect to China (plus €912 million, +16%). This continued to be primarily driven by an increase in the EU exports value of pork meat. EU export values to the United States have also increased by 7.1% (plus €488 million) compared to the same period in 2020, mainly driven by wine and spirits. Looking at agri-food imports over January-April 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, a significant fall in the value of EU imports from the United Kingdom continues to be observed (minus €1.844 million, -37%). A further decrease was also observed in the EU imports from the United States (minus €387 million, -10%). On the other hand, countries for which the EU import values increased the most over the first four months of 2021 include India, Brazil, Serbia, Australia and Argentina. The resulting agri-food trade surplus’ value stood at €22.7 billion, an increase of 17% compared to the period January-April 2020. This net trade balance continued to be driven by high exports of wine, spirits and liqueurs, pork meat, chocolate and confectionary, bulbs, roots and live plants. More information is available here.

State aid: Commission approves €9.5 million Irish scheme to support not-for-profit entities in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved a €9.5 million Irish scheme to support not-for-profit regional, county and local entities affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Irish government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, which goes under the name ‘Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme’, the aid will take the form of direct grants of minimum €50,000 and up to maximum €1.8 million per beneficiary. The aid will be granted to not-for-profit regional, county and local entities for projects, to be selected through a competitive procedure, which will contribute to the viability and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. The Commission found that the Irish scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed the limits per beneficiary set by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.63264 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

Commissioner Wojciechowski represents the Commission at the 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit

Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski will represent the Commission at the 2021 UN Food System Pre-Summit, a three-day event hosted by Italy on 26-28 July 2021 at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Pre-Summit consolidates the preparatory work for the Summit, notably a series of online meetings, public forums, citizens’ dialogues, and other discussions on ‘solutions’, organised around the Summit’s five action tracks. The aim is to provide people with the opportunity to actively engage with the Summit, in line with the principle that everyone will be required to take action to transform the world’s food systems. By bringing together a wide range of actors from around the world, the Pre-Summit sets the stage for the Summit of September 2021, in the margins of the UN General Assembly, and leverages the power of the world’s food systems to deliver progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in line with the Commission´s Green DealFarm to Fork, and Common Agricultural Policy objectives. The event will involve thousands of youth, food producers, indigenous peoples, civil society, researchers, private sector, policy leaders, the UN system, and Ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition, and finance to collectively raise political ambition and work on transformative changes in our food systems in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda. More information about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit can be found here.

Informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting, 26 July 2021 

Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Gentiloni and Commissioner McGuinness will represent the European Commission at the informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting taking place via videoconference on Monday, 26 July 2021. The participants will discuss the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility and exchange views on proposals for Council Implementing Decisions on the next round of national recovery and resilience plans. They will also take stock of the Commission’s recently adopted anti-money laundering package. The package aims to improve the detection of suspicious transactions and activities, and to close loopholes used by criminals to launder illicit proceeds or finance terrorist activities through the financial system. Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis will represent the Commission at the press conference following the meeting.

Read the European Commission Daily News in full here.

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