COVID-19: MEPs approve part of aid package for wine, fruit and vegetable growers  

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Parliament endorsed on Thursday one set of exceptional market measures to help EU wine, fruit and vegetable producers. The other one, slammed before as insufficient, is still on hold.

To ensure that the wine, fruit and vegetable sectors get further support as quickly as possible, the European Parliament proactively greenlighted the delegated regulation tabled by the EU Commission on 4 May, instead of waiting for the two-month objection period to pass. The measures, approved without a vote, as MEPs raised no objection, provide for additional flexibility to farmers and producer organisations when it comes to making changes in operational programmes or extending support linked to green harvesting and mutual funds.


The fate of the other set of market measures, adopted by the Commission on 30 April and criticised by Agriculture Committee MEPs for not going far enough to help wine, fruit and vegetable producers, will be decided only later. The committee launched a procedure on 2 June that could lead to its rejection unless the Commission improves it. To give it more time to do so, MEPs extended the deadline for a potential Parliament’s veto until 31 August.


Quote


“The Commission’s support measures for the wine, fruit and vegetable growers are by far not enough and we have repeatedly asked Commissioner Wojciechowski to improve them. This has not happened so far and therefore we have endorsed today only some of these measures and our green light for the other ones stays on hold,” Agriculture Committee Chair Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) said.


“But we also bought Commissioner Wojciechowski more time to improve the insufficient measures when we extended the deadline for our potential veto. And I hope he will keep his word and will soon come up with further and more targeted measures,” Mr Lins added.


Next steps


The delegated act can enter into force early if it is endorsed by both the Parliament and the Council or once the objection period expires with no objection raised.

Background

The EU Commission announced on 22 April and published on 4 May further measures to support the agri-food sector. The Agriculture Committee Chair Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) welcomed the new aid package as a step in the right direction, but not big enough, and called on the Commission to get serious.


During the debate with Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on 30 April, MEPs welcomed the announced measures as a good first step but insisted strongly that they had to be followed up with further actions and money. The Agriculture Committee Chair addressed several letters to the EU Commission on the subject. In the letter dated 27 April, Mr Lins voiced detailed criticism of the package and offered ways to improve it. In another letter sent out on 7 May, Mr Lins urged Commissioner Wojciechowski to improve the package and warned that failure to do that might lead to its partial rejection in the Parliament.


On 2 June, the Agriculture Committee endorsed one set of exceptional market measures to help EU wine, fruit and vegetable producers, which the Parliament greenlighted today, but it also threatened to veto the other one for being insufficient and gave the Commission a few more weeks to update it. Coordinators of political groups in the committee discussed ways to improve this part of the EU aid package with Commissioner Wojciechowski on 9 June.