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Olive Oil Sector Eyes European Vote Next Week

Mar. 8, 2013
Julie Butler

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Europe’s olive oil sec­tor will come a step closer to know­ing its fate under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) when the full European Parliament votes on changes in Strasbourg next week.

That sub­si­dies will be cut is a given, but by how much is not yet known, and some mea­sures pro­posed to help the sec­tor are said to be under threat due to ide­o­log­i­cal objec­tions from Members of the Parliament (MEPs) from the north of Europe.

Apart from the sub­si­dies, the main pro­pos­als affect­ing the sec­tor are in what’s called the Single CMO (com­mon organ­i­sa­tion of the mar­kets in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts) reg­u­la­tion, which was drafted by the European Commission then amended by Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Increased mar­ket intervention

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As it stands, the reg­u­la­tion pro­vides for an increase in the pri­vate stor­age aid (PSA) trig­ger price for extra vir­gin olive oil by nearly 61 cents to the equiv­a­lent of €2.38/kg and that for vir­gin olive oil by 58 cents to €2.29/kg. No change is pro­posed to the trig­ger for lam­pante.

It would also effec­tively allow inter­branch orga­ni­za­tions in the olive oil and table olive sec­tors (such as the Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva in Spain) to take steps affect­ing the sup­ply chain, such as with­draw­ing sur­plus in times of over-pro­duc­tion, with­out falling foul of com­pe­ti­tion laws.

And fund­ing would be pro­vided for pro­grams to sup­port the olive oil and table olives sec­tor in areas includ­ing mar­ket fol­low-up, improve­ment of the envi­ron­men­tal impacts of olive cul­ti­va­tion, improve­ment of the com­pet­i­tive­ness of olive cul­ti­va­tion through mod­ern­iza­tion and restruc­tur­ing, improve­ment of pro­duc­tion qual­ity, and mon­i­tor­ing of the qual­ity of olive oils sold to final consumers.

Among other rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions is a require­ment that the European Commission con­sider a scheme for olive oil and table olives sim­i­lar to those pro­mot­ing the con­sump­tion of dairy and fruit and veg­etable prod­ucts in schools.

Lobbying inten­si­fies

A vote is sched­uled on CAP reform pro­pos­als dur­ing the ple­nary (full sit­ting) of the European Parliament from March 11 – 14, with a final deci­sion due by June after talks involv­ing the Commission and 27 EU mem­ber states rep­re­sented in the EU Council of Ministers.

Juan Corbalán, Brussels del­e­gate of Spanish Agri-food Cooperatives — which holds the pres­i­dency of the olive oil sec­tion of European farmer fed­er­a­tion Copa-Cogeca — told Olive Oil Times that moves to amend cer­tain mea­sures affect­ing the olive oil value chain and qual­ity con­trol were expected from some MEPs from the north of Europe, par­tic­u­larly from the United Kingdom, Germany and Holland.

Their con­cerns boiled down to an ide­o­log­i­cal pref­er­ence for self-reg­u­la­tion, he said, while in south­ern Europe (the world cen­ter of olive oil pro­duc­tion) there was gen­er­ally sup­port for reg­u­la­tion. Because if not, power goes to the strongest in the market.”

Corbalán said farm­ers were con­tin­u­ing to lobby for an increase to the PSA trig­ger price for lam­pante.



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