The European Commission has announced a comprehensive support package worth €500 million, recognising the difficulties being experienced by producers. The package was announced by vice-president Katainen during an extraordinary Council of agriculture, organised to discuss the problems many livestock holders in Europe are experiencing.
To underline their difficult situation and demands and keep the pressure on the politicians, many thousands of farmers accompanied by a large number of tractors from all over Europe travelled to Brussels for a mass demonstration. Belgian police had to use water cannons to disperse a group of farmers who turned violent but the fast majority of protesters kept it peaceful.
A demonstrator crosses the streeet as anti-riot policemen launch water cannon during the demonstration of farmers in front of the European Commission building.
Speaking at the Council, Mr Katainen said: “This package will allow for €500 million of EU funds to be used for the benefit of farmers immediately. This is a robust and decisive response. This response demonstrates that the Commission takes its responsibility towards farmers very seriously and is prepared to back it up with the appropriate funds. This is particularly important, given other competing budgetary demands.”
The most significant part of the support will go to the dairy sector. The Commission will ensure that this is fairly distributed, targeted and effective and will shortly announce details of the distribution over the Member States, Mr Katainen said. For the pig sector, the Commission is proposing a new private storage scheme for pigmeat. Furthermore, Brussels will increase the promotion budget for next year, a specific part of which will be reserved for the pigmeat and dairy sectors. The new policy will make it possible to carry out generic pigmeat promotion on the internal market in the EU. Over the next few years, the promotion budget will be gradually increased to reach €200 million in 2019.
Cow statues painted with European flag colors and with writings reading in differents languages “Fair milk” are set in front of the European Commission building by demonstrating farmers.
The Commission also wants to open new markets for European agricultural products. Agricultural commissioner Hogan, who was absent from the council because of illness, has scheduled a number of promotion visits to third countries where important opportunities exist for EU agriculture and to help open doors for new exports. Already, Commissioner Hogan is committed to visits to China and Japan later this year and to Mexico and Colombia early in 2016.