Speaking during a meeting of the European Parliament’s committee on agriculture held yesterday in Brussels, the Polish centre-right MEP Czesław Adam Siekierski said that, last week, the Russian Veterinary Office released an order saying it would ban processed pork meat products coming from Lithuania and Poland as of 7 April, extending the existing Russian ban on fresh pigmeat products from the whole European Union (EU).
"As of today, a total ban on imports of [any] pork meat [products] from Lithuania and Poland is being introduced," added the Polish conservative MEP Janusz Wojciechowski. The European Commission’s directorate general (DG) for health, which has been in charge of negotiating with the Russian authorities on the issue, confirmed it had been informed about the new ban and said this could affect products such as Polish sausages, for example.
Russia imposed its ban on all EU live pig and fresh pork meat in January following cases of ASF detected in wild boar in Lithuania and Poland.
The country’s authorities have asked the European Commission for a list of all EU facilities which import pork meat from Poland and Lithuania for onward processing, the European Parliament debate revealed. Polish MEPs warned that this information could be used by Russia to impose bans on those facilities should Brussels provide the information.
Speaking during the debate, Ladislav Miko, the deputy director general of the European Commission’s health directorate general (DG) indicated that this was not likely to happen soon: "Sometimes we are asked questions that would distort the EU market and have nothing in connection with addressing the issue of African Swine Fever (ASF) and in that case we don’t send that information to the Russian partners," he said.
The European Commission officials negotiating with Russia on the ban have been met by a permanent refusal to reconsider the issue, he said, arguing this was politically motivated by the recent diplomatic and economic clash between the EU and Russia on Crimea.
Many members of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee expressed concerns that Russia was trying to split the EU market by negotiating with its member states on a bilateral basis. "I would like to disapprove all actions of all member states which have started talking to Moscow independently; this is an infringement of the solidarity rule and the EU needs to remain united," said MEP Siekierski.
Ladislav Miko said that Brussels is still considering compensating a larger number of pig farmers than those who are part of the Poland and Lithuania border areas affected by ASF.