Monday, June 27, 2022
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Emergency aid for Ukraine and farmers; no delay Green Deal

Ukraine's Agriculture Minister Roman Leshenko will join the European Agriculture Council by video link on Monday, even though the country is not a member of the EU. Lesjenko is expected to call on his EU officials for immediate support, for example through the supply of seeds and diesel. 

On Monday, European agriculture ministers will discuss the agri-action package that the European Commission will present on Wednesday in Brussels, and which will be discussed in the European Parliament immediately afterwards. Parliamentary groups have prepared a joint resolution on the consequences of the Russian war against Ukraine for food security.

Commissioner Wojciechowski expects support from both the 27 LNV ministers and the MEPs for the four action lines he wants to present. Within the European agricultural policy (CAP), he wants to open up the agricultural emergency fund of 500 million euros, and allow state aid by the EU member states. Targeted interventions are also foreseen for the pork sector and a departure from the restrictions on set-aside land, to plant more protein crops.

But the major stumbling block seems to be that the Commissioners for Climate and Health (Frans Timmermans and Stella Kyriakides) are not prepared to postpone the introduction of their Green Deal and farm-to-fork next year. It lays down the sustainability of agriculture by means of a reduction and ban on chemical pesticides and the use of artificial fertilizers, and a switch to more organic farming.

As the Russian war in Ukraine threatens to disrupt food supplies, agricultural organizations and several EU countries (Slovakia and Italy) are calling for those plans to be reconsidered or suspended. Other countries (Germany, the Netherlands) are against this. According to Wojciechowski, this will be discussed again on Monday not only by the LNV ministers but also within the European Commission. 

So far, the European Commission, including Wojciechowski, says it is sticking to the agreed Green Deal. But the Agriculture Commissioner also gave the impression last week that he can grant individual exceptions to member states – through the approval procedure of the national strategic plans. He always emphasizes that the Green Deal is not legally binding for farmers, but that only his letters of approval for the NSPs (observation letter) apply.

The Finnish agricultural weekly Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reported last weekend that EC chairman Ursula von der Leyen has requested concessions from Timmermans and Kyriakides. French media speculate that France is also pushing for a postponement or reconsideration.

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