Luis Planas, has underlined the need for the European Commission (EC) to lead the adoption of an urgent response, in close cooperation with the Member States, to face the consequences caused by Covid-19 in the agricultural and fishing sectors, as well as guarantee the proper functioning of international trade in agri-food products.
The minister explained that, since the declaration of the state of alert in Spain, although the agricultural and fishing sectors have remained active, problems are being detected, in specific sectors, due to the decrease in sales, particularly in cut flower and meat of lamb, mainly due to the closure of restaurants and the cancellation of cultural and religious events.
He has also highlighted the impact of the closure of the borders, which hinders the arrival in Spain of workers from other States of the European Union or third countries for the tasks of collecting products, which are in full campaign, or difficulties in the activity, logistics, sales and marketing facing the fishing and aquaculture sector.
After evaluating the publication by the Commission of the "Guide to border management measures"In order to ensure intra-community food trafficking, he has transferred his concern for the maintenance of international trade and has asked the EC to ensure trade in agri-food products with third countries.
Support measures for the agricultural sector
In relation to the agricultural sector, particularly in the area of the CAP, he pointed out that financial and legal resources must be mobilized to implement the exceptional measures provided for in articles 219 to 221. of the Regulations of the Common Organization of Agricultural Markets for sectors such as cut flower, strawberry and red fruits, as well as for lamb meat that would already be in this exceptional situation.
He underlined the need for the Commission to adopt, as a matter of urgency, all the modifications to the current legislation to take into account the current situation of "force majeure". Due to the current situation, the beneficiaries of the CAP will not be able to meet the commitments, demands or deadlines established in the support measures in which they participate and which could lead to a loss of community funds.
In this sense, the minister has emphasized the convenience that the funds not executed could be recovered for their implementation in later years, when the normal situation recovers.
It has also called for an urgent and robust response from the European Union to prevent the deterioration of the structure of the fishing sector. In this regard, Planas thanked the Commission for its rapid proposal for contingency measures, which foresees an increase in aid "de minimis" (State aid), although it has indicated that it is not sufficient to face the current challenges.
The solution to this crisis "does not lie solely in the activation of state aid" and the commitment of the European Union must be clear, in line with what was expressed by the EC at the last meeting of the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament.
For this reason, he recalled that, in the letter sent on 20 March to the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, he already pointed out the need to adopt several urgent measures, mainly within the framework of Regulation 508/2014. A temporary modification of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) that will allow the fishing and aquaculture sector to be assisted "immediately and during the time of crisis" in the face of the situation generated by Covid-19.