This statement by the EU-27 Agriculture Ministers, in which it is highlighted that the immediate priority is the protection of human life and health, unanimously acknowledges the vital role of farmers and ranchers, as well as the agri-food sector in general in maintaining food security and ensuring the food supply in Europe during this public health crisis.
They claim the important role played by the CAP and the need for this policy to remain "strong in the future".
Despite the fact that the whole agrifood chain works with normal practice, in an exceptional circumstance like the current one, the ministers observe with concern the impacts of the crisis in some subsectors. They warn that the medium and long-term impacts could be serious and lasting for farmers and ranchers, for the food industry and for the rural economy.
They value the solidarity shown in the European response to date, through a new temporary framework of state aid, the guidelines for border management and the free movement of workers, as well as the flexibilities in some CAP regulations.
However, they ask the European Commission to adopt additional urgent measures, available in the current CAP, and call for the activation of aid for private storage, as well as exceptional aid for those sectors most affected.
The EU-27 advocates the necessary relaxation of the CAP implementing regulations, both for direct aid and rural development, as well as increasing the advance of aid.
In this sense, they call for a "continuous, strong and coordinated European response" to demonstrate to European citizens the important role that farmers and ranchers, as well as the agri-food sector as a whole, play against COVID-19.
The European Commission (EC) must bet on strengthening the CAP to support the production of safe and sustainable food, as a sign of involvement, also in the future, with the rural world at a critical moment like today.
Joint declaration of the 27 European ministers of Agriculture regarding the necessary response at European level, framed in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), to the crisis of COVID-19
The agriculture ministers of Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania , Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, and with the support of Croatia:
They recognize the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on all European citizens.
They stress that our shared immediate priority in this public health emergency is the protection of life and human health;
They emphasize the vital role of farmers and ranchers and the agri-food sector in general in maintaining food security and food supply in Europe during this crisis, the essential framework provided by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in this regard and the need for a strong CAP in the future;
Call on all Member States to work together in a spirit of European solidarity;
They observe with increasing concern the growing impact on the markets of the COVID-19 crisis in the agri-food sector, which is already significant in the case of some subsectors.
They consider that the medium and long-term impact could be potentially severe and lasting for European farmers and ranchers, for the food industry and for the rural economy;
They welcome the solidarity shown in the European response to date, including through a new state aid framework, the guidelines for border management and the free movement of workers, as well as the two stages of the Investment Initiative in Response to Coronavirus, which includes some flexibilities regarding the implementation of the CAP scheme;
They consider, however, that there is still an urgent need for additional, appropriate and responsible measures to be activated in relation to the CAP at this time.
As agriculture ministers, we ask the Commission to provide:
- The activation of measures within the framework of the CAP Regulation of the Common Organization of Agricultural Markets (CMO) including, in particular, aid to private storage to support those sectors that have been analyzed as significantly affected by market disturbances and the impact in prices, as well as exceptional aid for farmers and ranchers in the most affected sectors under Articles 219 and 221 of the CMO Regulation;
- Ongoing review and monitoring of all sectors over the coming period, with readiness to introduce new CMO measures as needed;
- The immediate extension of new flexibilities for the Member States in both pillars of the CAP, including in relation to previous payment dates, higher rates of advances than already announced, activation of specific measures within rural development programs and the execution of on-the-spot controls and administrative controls without reducing the effectiveness of the control system;
- A continuous, strong and coordinated European response that demonstrates to all our citizens the vital role that European farmers and ranchers and the agri-food sector in general have to play in the response to COVID-19, as well as the strength of the CAP in supporting to food security, protection of the environment and dynamic rural areas at this critical moment and in the future.
- The willingness of European farms to face the COVID-19 crisis, as well as other current and future challenges, including climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
April 16, 2020