First, I would like to congratulate Revista Mercados for their important and insightful publications over the past 25 years. As the new year begins, and with Fruit Logistica – one for the world’s most important Fruit & Vegetables fairs – coming up, it is a good time to reflect on the upcoming challenges and opportunities for the fruit & vegetable sector.
As EU Agriculture Commissioner, I want the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to continue providing strong support for our producers, so that they can face the future with confidence.
Last June, the European Commission published its proposals for the future of the CAP, aiming to modernise and simplify the policy, with a fairer and more targeted distribution, an enhanced climate and environmental ambition, action for growth and jobs in rural areas, as well as a strong emphasis on generational renewal.
The CAP proposal contains a number of positive elements for the fruit & vegetables sector: Specific aid schemes will continue to be available – EU Member States can design tailor-made interventions to support the needs of the sector. The existing rules for managing the markets are functioning well and will be maintained, while being adapted to the new programming context and to new objectives, such as the increase of F&V consumption.
The ball is now in the court of the European Parliament and national governments. I hope they will assume their responsibilities and make sure that 2019 is the year our proposals are turned into legislation. I also hope they will sign off on a strong CAP budget.
In 2019 we will continue the successful EU school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme. The scheme provides valuable support to millions of European schoolchildren and thousands of farmers in every Member State. Such support has proven important for farmers in recent years and the increased funding will enhance the value of this support.
We will also continue to invest heavily in promoting our fruit and veg products. The 2019 EU promotion policy sets out €191.6 million to be made available for programmes selected for EU co-financing – an increase of €12.5 million compared with 2018. This is both for internal promotion within the EU and externally with our global trading partners.
We will also continue our work to strengthen the position of the farmer in the food supply chain. In December, we reached a historic breakthrough when the 3 EU institutions for the very first time agreed on binding rules to outlaw certain unfair trading practices. The Directive defines a set of specific practices as unfair thereby complementing the Spanish approach based on Law 12/2013.
This will provide significant protection for all EU farmers, their organisations as well as small and mid-range food businesses. They will now be protected against all bigger operators acting unfairly and outside the rules.