19 Jul 2016
MEPS ON DAIRY CRISIS – 19 JULYBrussels Daily
DAIRY CRISIS: Members of the European Parliament give Commission’s aid package a cautious welcome
The new €500 million worth aid package to tackle the dairy crisis is a step in the right direction but it might not be enough to stabilise the market, members of the Agriculture committee told Commissioner Phil Hogan on Monday. Several MEPs called for more stringent measures to cut milk oversupply in the EU, some questioned national top-ups that could have destabilising effect on the market, others criticised the decision to do away with milk quotas and demanded structural changes.
“It is important that the money [for the aid package] is coming from outside the CAP budget,” stressed Chair of the Agriculture committee Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL). He thanked Commissioner Hogan for actively looking for new foreign outlets for EU dairy products but he also stressed that the EU has to be “more vigilant with regards to international [trade] agreements” and called for “further structural actions” on the EU market.
Congratulating Commissioner Hogan for getting “extra money,” from outside the CAP budget, to finance the aid package, Albert Dess (EPP, DE) expressed hope that “liquidity aid will be provided,” and that “by promoting sales we will be able to export dairy products to third countries.” He asked to this end for launching a debate on export guarantees that could offset export-related “high risks.”
EU-wide approach to cut overproduction
“The first assessment of the overall package is that it is heading into the right direction and it is a direction that the Parliament has called for” but “we might have preferred a more European approach to reduction of milk production,” Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) said. He recalled that the previous aid package “was not used by member states to reduce production” but led to its substantial increase and warned that the new package with only voluntary production cuts might also fail to deliver.
Martin Häusling (Greens/EFA, DE) criticised the voluntary nature of measures to cut production. “We have to reduce supply across the Europe, up and down, east and west, in such a way that is not just voluntary,” he stressed, otherwise “some will do it, some will not, and it is not going to have a market effect.” He also said the overproducing countries “have to be the first ones to accept their responsibility” for not increasing their production further.
National top-ups criticised
“The truth is we are sitting here cleaning up a mess created by agriculture ministers and the Commission (…) when they decided to do away with quotas” without a soft-landing, said James Nicholson (ECR, UK). Not quotas, but “a production control” is “what has to happen,” he stressed. He also warned that “if some member states do co-fund” aid measures “and other member states do not to co-fund, then you immediately have an imbalance (…) between (…) dairy producers in different member states.”
For Jens Rohde (ALDE, DK) the aid package shows that the Commission and the Parliament feel “a great responsibility to farmers.” The money aimed at cutting milk production “need to be given out rapidly and very precisely,” he said. “My biggest concern (…) is your announcement that countries can top-up” funding of aid measures, he said warning that this “renationalisation” could lead states to support rather than cut the production.
Call for a public policy to regulate milk supply
“Everything we have just heard from Commissioner is just a prelude to a new failure,” Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL, ES) said. “If we don’t have a public dairy policy [to regulate the sector] we will be doomed to failure,” she stressed criticising the voluntary nature of measures to cut milk production. “The big industrial producers are going to benefit from this [package], not the small scale producers,” she said telling Mr Hogan that he is “cheating the sector and a small scale farmers.”
“This crisis has not come as a surprise. The majority of producers were against the end of quotas but the EU wanted to get this thorough to please a small number of financiers and industrialists,” said Edouard Ferrand (ENF, FR). “Your crisis plan does not help anybody (…) it brings states into disequilibrium,” he told Commissioner Hogan whom he also criticised for “aggravating the crisis” by not recognising it at an earlier stage.
Structural changes and reform of the CAP needed
While welcoming the aid package, which was called for by “many small and medium holders,” Giulia Moi (EFDD, IT) pointed out that after several aid packages time has come for “structural intervention that will resolve the crisis in the sector”. “The CAP needs to be changed,” she said stressing that a civil society, farmers and operators should be involved in the process.
Video recording of the full debate is available here.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
In the chair: Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL)