A deal with the EU Council of Ministers on measures to boost sales of EU farm produce within the EU and abroad and to restore consumer confidence in the event of market disruptions was approved by the Agriculture Committee on Monday.
"This deal will further improve the promotion of EU farm products worldwide. New measures will help EU farmers and the food industry both to boost their sales abroad and to consolidate their position on the EU single market", said Parliament's rapporteur Esther Herranz García (EPP, ES). The agreement was approved by 31 votes to five, with two abstentions.
Following Parliament's lead, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission agreed to allow the promotion of EU farm produce on the EU single market and not just in third countries.
Information campaigns within the EU and in third countries could focus on the high food safety, animal welfare, traceability and sustainability standards that EU producers must meet.
EU contribution increased
Funding for information and promotion campaigns should come exclusively from the EU and the proposing organisation, thus excluding member states from contributing, says the deal.
But to offset a possible lack of funding from producers, the three institutions followed Parliament's lead and enabled the EU to increase its share of funding.
All eligible promotion and information campaigns within the EU and abroad should be entitled to 70% - 80% co-funding, up from the 50% - 60% proposed by the Commission.
In the event of a serious market disruption or loss of consumer confidence, the EU's share should be increased to 85% and could be increased by a further 5 percentage points if the proposing organisation is from a member state in financial difficulty, according to the deal.
Flexible measures to deal with crises
At Parliament's request, the Commission will be allowed to launch prompt campaigns to remedy serious market disturbances and losses of consumer confidence, such as that in 2011, when Spanish cucumbers were wrongly blamed for causing an E.coli outbreak.
Longer list of products covered
The deal also adds beer, chocolate, bread and pastry, pasta, salt, sweet corn, and cotton to the list of products eligible for the full range of EU-supported promotion measures. Fish and aquaculture products may be added to this list provided they are bundled in a promotion or information campaign with other eligible farm products, adds the agreed text.
Parliament also ensured that included wines with a protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) could qualify for EU support provided promotion campaigns are sponsored by organisations from several member states. For campaigns designed by organisation(s) from a single member state, wine could be added to the list only if bundled with other eligible products.
The provisional deal will be debated by the full Parliament at its last Strasbourg plenary session (14 - 17 April) before the European elections. If Parliament votes for it, then it will still need to be formally endorsed by the Council.