`Olive Regions Work on Joint Strategy to Maintain EU Subsidies

Europe

Olive Regions Work on Joint Strategy to Maintain EU Subsidies

Apr. 2, 2012
Julie Butler

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A new olive oil lobby group is urgently prepar­ing a posi­tion paper to pro­tect its mem­bers from threa­t­ended sub­sidy cuts by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

At its meet­ing in Barcelona on last Tues­day, the Forum of Euro­pean Olive Regions agreed to com­plete the so-called white paper before the end of June in order to defend itself in Brus­sels” as nego­ti­a­tions heat up over the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy (CAP) struc­ture and bud­get for 2014 – 2020.

Among changes pro­posed by the EC is pay­ing all olive farm­ers a flat rate per hectare rather than pay­ing some accord­ing to pro­duc­tion his­tory – a change which would see France and Spain lose the most.

Spain’s olive oil sec­tor alone is cur­rently sub­sidised to the tune of 40 per­cent of the value of the olive oil mar­ket, accord­ing to Spain’s new Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Food and Envi­ron­men­tal Affairs, Miguel Arias Cañete. We’re talk­ing about…aid that rep­re­sents 1 bil­lion euros ($1.3b) and that amounts to in the order of €468 per hectare (per year),” he told Spain’s Par­lia­ment last month.



Miguel Arias Cañete

Forum rep­re­sents regions in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Croa­tia

Speak­ing after attend­ing the meet­ing of the new forum, Direc­tor Gen­eral of Indus­try and Agri-Food Qual­ity for the Andalu­sian regional gov­ern­ment , Ana Romero, told Olive Oil Times the group had to move quickly.

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Asked why a new forum was nec­es­sary when orga­ni­za­tions such as the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC), and national and regional gov­ern­ments, already rep­re­sented the sec­tor, she said while the IOC, for instance, did mag­nif­i­cent work, there was much at stake for the mem­ber regions and they were bet­ter posi­tioned to lobby directly them­selves.

In response to crit­i­cism that the CAP pay­ments prop up olive farms oth­er­wise not finan­cially viable, Romero said that there were many rea­sons to jus­tify sub­si­dies. Among these were the impor­tance of the olive oil sec­tor in main­tain­ing rural com­mu­ni­ties and pre­vent­ing land aban­don­ment, par­tic­u­larly in areas of Spain where the land was sloped and very dif­fi­cult to farm prof­itably yet the olive oil pro­duced was excep­tional.

She said the posi­tion paper, which would be released for dicus­sion in the sec­tor, would set out nec­es­sary changes under five main head­ings: qual­ity, pro­mo­tion and infor­ma­tion, trade and agree­ments with non-EU coun­tries, research, and the CAP reform.

The devel­op­ment of these sec­tions would be split between the forum’s mem­bers, which are Dubrovnik-Neretva and Istria (Croa­tia), Andalu­sia and Cat­alo­nia (Spain), Cor­sica, Lange­doc-Rous­sil­lon, Provence-Cote d’Azur-Alpes and Rhone-Alpes (France), Crete and Sterea Ellada (Greece), and Emilia Romagna, Puglia and Tus­cany (Italy).

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Assem­bly of the Euro­pean Regions pro­duc­ing Fruit, Veg­eta­bles and Plants (AREFLH) and the Euro­pean Asso­ci­a­tion of Geo­graph­i­cal Indi­ca­tions (AREPO) are lend­ing their sup­port to the new forum and also attended the meet­ing.



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