16 Sep 2015
SPEECH BY COMMISSION HOGAN ON SOLIDARITY PACKAGE FOR FARMERS – 16 SEPTEMBERBrussels Daily
Speech by Commissioner Hogan to European Parliament Mini-Plenary Session in Brussels
Mr/Madame President, honourable members, I am very happy to be here this
evening with the President of the Agriculture Council of Ministers, Fernand
Etgen, and to outline the Commission’s comprehensive response to the
difficulties currently facing European farmers.
As the public representatives of the European Union’s 507 million citizens, you
are only too well aware of the challenges facing not alone farmers, but the
wider challenges facing the Union today.
Just last week, President Juncker made his State of the Union address to this
House and, inevitably, much of that address was focused on the refugee crisis.
To deal with this crisis, the President said that we “require a strong effort for
European solidarity.” The European Union has shown solidarity in its response
to many crises and our response to the situation in the agricultural markets is a
demonstration of solidarity with European farmers and particularly with those
most affected by market developments over the past year.
The European Commission has proposed a comprehensive support package for
all 28 Member States, worth €500 million, described by President Juncker as “a
€500 solidarity package for farmers.” The Commission’s response reflects our
commitment to support European farmers and European food production.
I welcome the support for the package shown by the Council yesterday and I
hope that I can count on similar support from this House this evening.
In response to some concerns about the source of the funding for the package,
I am happy to confirm that the money comes from within the existing margins
of the agriculture budget and will not require recourse to the Crisis Reserve.
For those who question the adequacy of this package as an effective response,
I would say there are always some for whom any amount is never enough,
whether that is €500 million or €1 billion. Now that we have this announced
this package, my focus is on delivery. This is about what the Commission can
do for farmers and getting that done quickly, particularly to address the
immediate cashflow challenges.
The Commission’s response must also be seen against the other budgetary
pressures, particularly arising from the refugee crisis. Indeed, an element of
the Commission’s package is to make available €30 million to ensure that EU
milk will be available for the nutritional needs of refugees.
We have been dealing with the effects of the Russian ban for over a year now
which it is acknowledged has had repercussions on the farming sector. In
addition to the continuing impact of that ban, we also have
• weakening demand in a number of key existing and prospective markets,
• a global oversupply of milk, to which all producing regions are
• the impact of drought in certain Member States.
These issues have had a wide impact on farmers, particularly for dairy
production which takes place on some 700 000 farms right across the Union.
The Commission’s package is an appropriate mix to meet the challenges being
faced by different sectors and farmers in Member States. Rather than focusing
on individual measures, I urge you to look at this package as a whole.
It is a package that
• is designed to address the cash-flow difficulties faced by farmers, on the
one hand through €420 million in direct targeted aid for all 28 Member
States, and on the other by allowing Member States to advance 70 per
cent of direct payments and 85 per cent of area-based rural
development payments from 16 October without the need for on-the-
• will stablise the market, through a new and very generously resourced
private storage scheme for skimmed milk powder and cheese as well as a
new private storage scheme for pigmeat. Additional funding will also be
provided for the promotion of dairy products and pigmeat;
• will reinforce the work on improvements for better outcomes on all
layers of the food supply chain – production, processing and retail – by
promoting full use of the milk package, e.g. through exchange of best
practices, including on unfair trading practices, as well as by thoroughly
reporting on all aspects of the milk package already in 2016 and through
a new dedicated High-Level Group to look at specific issues such as risk
hedging instruments for agricultural products and credit for farmers; and
• will respond to societal challenges through the School Milk Scheme and
funding for refugees.
These measures are taken in addition to €820 million being allocated in
Voluntary Coupled Support for the dairy sector [in 17 MS].
I am confident the necessary resources to cover all measures are available to
ensure that it is an effective response which will deliver on its objectives.
The allocation of €420 million in MS envelopes has generated some inevitable
reaction, but I want to emphasise that the distribution key used ensures that
the envelopes are fair and, in a spirit of solidarity, provide a top-up for those
MS most affected by the negative circumstances, including the fall in pigmeat
prices, the summer drought and the ongoing impact of the Russian ban.
Last week, President said that without farmers, Europe would not survive and
he gave a commitment that we would not leave farmers out in the cold. The
Commission’s package delivers on that commitment. It is a robust and decisive
Before concluding, I want to emphasise the imperative for rapid action and
appeal for the assistance of the European Parliament in ensuring that this
package is delivered quickly for the benefit of our farmers. The Commission is
already publishing the draft legal instruments (delegated and implementing
acts) and I encourage you to support these measures, particularly in relation to
targeted aid, to ensure that the available funding can be provided quickly to
those who need it, our farmers. I do not believe that farmers should be left
waiting for the urgent help that they need and which we can supply today. I ask
you to support me in this approach.
Wednesday 16 September