Commission adopts fruit & veg reforms

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Common agricultural policy

The European Commission has adopted the EU agriculture minister's
proposals to shake up the bloc's fruit and vegetable sector.

Approval of the reforms, which will see an end to production-led aid currently paid to the sector, draws to a close a process of reform begun in 2003.

"The Commission College has approved the proposal for a reform of the European Union's fruit and vegetable sector,"​ Mariann Fischer Boel told the agricultural committee at the European parliament.

"The fruit and vegetable sector cannot afford to be the dunce of the class. It can benefit from many of the reforms that we have applied to the rest of the CAP - though with adjustments here and there."

This means that financial support for the sector will be decoupled from production, in line with other agricultural sectors, and transferred to the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).

"Most sectors covered by the CAP have now been brought into the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). It's time that the fruit and vegetable sector followed that movement,"​ she said.

"This is about giving to fruit and vegetable production the benefits which the SPS has brought to other sectors. We have to see the fruit and vegetable sector in the context of the CAP as a whole."

Fischer Boel added that in order to achieve these objectives, the role of the Producer Organisations, which often run the sector in some regions, should be supported. "We also propose that Producer Organisations should have to devote at least 20 per cent of the spending in their operational programmes to environmental measures."

The objectives of the reform therefore are to help make the sector more competitive and market-oriented, for the sake of sustainable production, to encourage people in the European Union to eat more fruit and vegetables and to make the sector more environmentally responsible.

In essence, the proposals are part of a bigger change, encapsulated by Boel at a recent farming conference in the UK. She told delegates that while the CAP has already undergone reform, further changes are inevitable, and that food producers must expect import tariffs to continue to fall over time.

She also voiced her opinion that these changes will have positive effects for the EU.

"In the agrifood sector, we may spend a lot of time worrying about Brazil,"​ she told the Oxford farming conference.

"But how often do we think about countries such as India, where we tap into only a fraction of the potential demand for wines, spirits and other high-quality goods that we produce so well?"

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