Europe Approves €1B Aid to Greek Farmers, Other Businesses as Agricultural Sector Reels

Farming enterprises are eligible to receive up to €100,000 ($109,000) in repayable advances under the aid program.
Apr. 14, 2020 06:50 UTC
Costas Vasilopoulos
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After the hit of the novel coro­n­avirus on the econ­omy of Greece that brought many busi­ness sec­tors to a halt, the European Commission approved an urgent aid mea­sure of €1 bil­lion ($1.09 bil­lion) in repayable advances to com­pa­nies in dire need.

We can­not sell our prod­ucts, we are in despair, we have started to dump them and we pay the work­ers only to get rid of the zuc­chi­nis since no one is buy­ing them.- Stathis Gatzounas, a grower from Myrsini

Enterprises of all sec­tors can take advan­tage of the finan­cial aid pro­vided their activ­ity was dis­rupted by the virus out­break. The funds are to be dis­bursed by the Public Revenue Authority (AADE), bypass­ing banks and other finan­cial insti­tu­tions.

This €1 bil­lion Greek repayable advances scheme will help to ensure there is suf­fi­cient liq­uid­ity in the Greek econ­omy,” said Margrethe Vestager, the exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the com­mis­sion in charge of the com­pe­ti­tion pol­icy of the Union. It ensures that the com­pa­nies which are most impacted by the coro­n­avirus out­break will con­tinue their eco­nomic activ­ity dur­ing and after the cri­sis.”

The aid pro­gram adheres to the Temporary Framework of the Commission, which stip­u­lates that com­pa­nies of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor can receive a sub­sidy of up to €100,000 ($109,450). A max­i­mum amount of €120,000 ($131,340) is avail­able for enter­prises of the fish­ery and the aqua­cul­ture sec­tor, while busi­nesses of all other sec­tors are eli­gi­ble to receive up to €800,000 ($875,680) as sub­sidy.

Meanwhile, farm­ers in Greece have been com­plain­ing about their prod­ucts remain­ing idle due to the clos­ing of the entire HoReCa sec­tor (hotels, restau­rants and cater­ing) of the coun­try.

Cretan farm­ers said super­mar­kets cur­rently absorbs 30 per­cent of their pro­duc­tion of fruits and veg­eta­bles with the rest being unsold since many eater­ies and other food ser­vices are closed, while their coun­ter­parts in the Ilia region of the Peloponnese have already dis­carded part of their fresh crop of straw­ber­ries and zuc­chi­nis due to lim­ited demand.

We can­not sell our prod­ucts, we are in despair, we have started to dump them and we pay the work­ers only to get rid of the zuc­chi­nis since no one is buy­ing them,” said Stathis Gatzounas, a grower from the Myrsini vil­lage in Ilia. Everybody is deal­ing with other prob­lems except that of the pri­mary sec­tor. Expenses are mount­ing and the only thing we can do is quit.”

Amid the protests, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that a total of €150 mil­lion ($164.05 mil­lion) is exclu­sively allo­cated as direct com­pen­sa­tion for farm­ers, live­stock breed­ers and fish­er­men, although the funds have not yet been released.

Growers and pro­duc­ers have also appealed to the Supreme Court to over­turn the gov­ern­men­t’s deci­sion pro­hibit­ing them from sell­ing prod­ucts in farm­ers’ mar­kets held in other regions of the coun­try due to traf­fic and trans­port restric­tions.


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