EC criticised for “less action than talk” over Russian ban response

Europe’s farming leaders have criticised the European Commission (EC) for producing too much talk and not enough action in relation to seeking new markets for farm produce in the wake of the Russian export ban.

Warning that EU farmers are “paying a heavy price” for the Community’s dispute with Russia, Copa-Cogeca secretary general, Pekka Pesonen, told a high-level event in Helsinki that not enough had been done at Commission level to source new outlets.

“Before the August 2014 embargo, the Russian agri-food market absorbed EU exports worth up to €16 billion annually,” Mr Pesonen told an event organised by the European Economic and Social Committee, pointing out that Russia was our “biggest EU-export destination, our number one client”.

While agreeing, however, that EC services have stepped up efforts to find new markets for EU agricultural products, he remained critical of the process and what has been achieved so far.

“Unfortunately there has been a lot of talk and less action, at least in finding new opportunities to access markets,” he said.

“Today, we have a good budget for promotional measures but few opportunities to use these funds in an efficient way. We have repeatedly pointed out the need to use our EU External Services to promote not only democracy; human rights and other societal important elements, but also our high quality food and sustainable policies governing our EU agriculture sector. But not enough has been done.”

Mr Pesonen then closed with the reminder that action, not words, remained vital “if we want to ensure we have producers in the future to meet the world’s growing food demand”.

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