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European farmers paying the price for EU’s foreign policy

GUE/NGL MEPs intervened in a plenary debate yesterday evening on the impact of the Russian Federation's trade ban on agricultural products and foodstuffs from the EU.

Russia banned a range of EU food products following the EU decision to impose economic sanctions on Russia over the situation in Ukraine.

GUE/NGL MEP Lidia Senra said: “We think it is urgent for aid to reach farmers who have been affected by this ban, without discrimination and across all sectors. Subsidies and aid must be sufficient to cover production costs.

“The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) should have the rights and interests of farmers at its core. European farmers are the victims of EU decisions that were taken to favour the interests of the US government.”

Senra added: “The Commission's primary offense is to back a policy geared to exports in the dairy sector. We must back-pedal and overturn the decision to abandon quotas.  I think we need to move towards a policy that puts in place public management systems for supply. We need a policy that ensures workers receive a fair price for their labour.”

GUE/NGL MEP Matt Carthy said: “European supports need to be put in place to compensate farmers and businesses impacted during the sanctions period but also to cover long-term loses that will be felt as a result of the ban.

“The ban imposed by the Russian Federation on agricultural products from the EU is a very worrying development and reflects the failures of both Russian and European diplomacy that have impacted greatest on the people of Ukraine but will undoubtedly now be felt by farmers and businesses across these regions. The EU's agri-food sector is in crisis, and these sanctions may mean those already struggling to survive will no longer be able to do so.

Carthy also called for further measures from the Commission to ensure the losses of small farmers are covered and for compensation to be put in place to cover for scenarios where there is long-term impact on farmers beyond the sanctions period.

He added: “Small farmers need a friend in the European Commission, not a bureaucracy which sits by idly while their livelihoods suffer.”

GUE/NGL MEP Pablo Iglesias said: “In foreign policy there is something far more important than ideology and that is responsibility. In recent months I think we've seen everything but that. The upshot for European farmers is a 2 billion euro Russian export ban and the EU only proposes 125 million euros in aid. I've got no sympathy for Mr. Putin but I think the EU's foreign policy can't gamble with European farmers. Europeans deserve a responsible and a peaceful relationship with Russia.”

GUE/NGL MEP Miguel Viegas said: “We do not back this EU trade war because we think a double standard is being applied: no sanctions are being applied on Israel, a country that has severely breached international law with the bombing of Gaza.

“For Portuguese farmers, who have already suffered under three years of Troika intervention, the impact of this embargo is severe. Trading meat products with countries outside the EU requires months of negotiations and inspector visits to check health conditions. An embargo means months of work down the drain. The effects of this ban could soon be permanent as other competing countries, including several in Latin America, are already positioning themselves as alternative trading partners.”

GUE/NGL MEP Manolis Glezos questioned what the Commission expected would happen when it imposed economic sanctions on Russia and whether it could not have anticipated such a counter attack from the Russians.

“Could the Commission not have foreseen how all this would affect farmers? Did it know how much would be available in terms of aid?”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
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European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group