Following the coronavirus crisis and its negative impact on the fuit and vegetable sector, the European Commission adopted on the 7th of July an additional set of exceptional measures to provide further support to fruit and vegetable producers.
The main provision included in the package will allow producer organisations and their associations to benefit from an increase of the EU’s contribution (from 50% to 70%) for the implementation of their operational programmes. AREFLH strongly advocated in favour of this exceptional measure and highly welcomes its adoption as the latter will prevent EU producers from losing EU funding due to causes attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 sanitary emergency, AREFLH has actively contributed to the definition of several crisis management measures by working together with European policy-makers and formulating policy proposals to grant EU producers with the necessary legislative derogations and enhanced flexibility provisions to allow them to better cope with the negative impact of the pandemic in terms of market disturbance and shortage of workforce.
Among the key measures requested, we can highlight the adoption of the following provisions:
- set of derogations on annual on-the-spot checks and first-level checks on withdrawal operations applicable within the common agricultural policy
- temporary derogation to the limit of one third of expenditure for crisis prevention and management measures under the producer organisations’ operational programmes
- higher degree of flexibility for the submission of aid applications by producer organisations
- derogations related to the implementation of the fruit and vegetable school scheme
- temporary derogation to the maximum percentages of the operational fund which may be spent on any individual measure or type of action in order to ensure a balance between different measures within the operational programme
- exceptional flexibility on non-harvesting and green harvesting measures
The abovementioned measures, which have been implemented progressively throught the adoption of five delegated and implementing regulations, have enabled EU fruit and vegetable producers to focus the resources under their operational programmes to address the market disturbances caused by the COVID19 pandemic and have provided much needed financial stability by helping producer organisations reduce their cash-flow difficulties.
For Simona Caselli, President of AREFLH ‘’European Regions and Producer Organisations are grateful to the European Commission and the European Parliament for standing by the side of EU producers. Over the next few months, AREFLH will continue to monitor the market situation and assess the necessity for new exceptional measures should the need arise’’.